Driverless cars to take to UK roads from January 2015
The measures have been announced today (30th July) by Business Secretary Vince Cable as the Government looks to establish the UK as a pioneer in driverless cars and attract the world's leading specialists.
Under the plans, UK cities can now bid for a share of a £10m competition to host a driverless cars trial, with funding supplied by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Transport, in partnership with the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board. Up to three cities will be selected to host the trials from next year and each project is expected to last between 18 and 36 months and start in January 2015.
Ministers have also launched a review to look at current road regulations to establish how the UK can remain at the forefront of driverless car technology and ensure there is an appropriate regime for testing driverless cars in the UK. Two areas of driverless technology will be covered in the review: cars with a qualified driver who can take over control of the driverless car and fully autonomous vehicles where there is no driver, with an aim to update the Highway Code.
The plans were unveiled by Mr Cable at the MIRA vehicle engineering consultancy, test and research facility where he tested a driverless car with Science Minister Greg Clark.
Mr Cable said: ‘The excellence of our scientists and engineers has established the UK as a pioneer in the development of driverless vehicles through pilot projects. Today’s announcement will see driverless cars take to our streets in less than six months, putting us at the forefront of this transformational technology and opening up new opportunities for our economy and society.
‘Through the Government’s industrial strategy we are backing the automotive sector as it goes from strength to strength. We are providing the right environment to give businesses the confidence to invest and create high skilled jobs.’
Last month saw Mr Cable open the new “Imovation Centre” in the UK in a move intended to position the UK as a global leader in Intelligent Mobility products and services – including driverless cars.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Transport Minister Claire Perry: ‘Driverless cars have huge potential to transform the UK’s transport network – they could improve safety, reduce congestion and lower emissions, particularly CO2. We are determined to ensure driverless cars can fulfil this potential which is why we are actively reviewing regulatory obstacles to create the right framework for trialling these vehicles on British roads.’
However, research revealed earlier this week has found that over half of UK drivers would not buy a driverless car. The survey by Churchill Car Insurance indicated that motorists are still sceptical about driverless vehicles –56% of adults said they would not purchase one with reliability and security listed the largest barriers.