Prototype driverless vehicles are to be tested out on the roads of four major UK cities from next summer, with the government claiming the country is uniquely placed to lead the way in developing the technology.
The government have given the green light for the vehicles to be tested on public roads in a bid to encourage companies who are developing the technology to invest in the UK.
The driverless vehicle testing will be restricted to vehicles with someone present inside and able to take full control if required according to the DfT
The DfT said it found no legal barriers to the new technology being tested on our country’s roads after carrying out a full review of the road laws on Wednesday. They are now working on a ‘code of practice’ for driverless vehicles which is due to be released in the spring in view of three different driverless vehicles being tested across the country on public roads starting from summer.
The tests will be assessing the public’s interaction with the vehicles as much as the technology its self.
The Transport minister, Clair Perry, said ‘’these are still early days but today is an important step. The trials present a fantastic opportunity for the country to take a lead internationally in the development of this new technology’’
"I want Britain to be at the forefront of this exciting new development, to embrace a technology that could transform our roads and open up a brand new route for global investment,"
See the driverless vehilces that are set to be on our roads.
Business secretary Vince Cable has said the trials which are backed by £19m worth of government funding, would keep the country at the cutting edge of automotive technology and should bring more highly skilled jobs to the UK.
“The projects we are now funding in Greenwich, Bristol, Milton Keynes and Coventry will help to ensure we are world-leaders in this field and able to benefit from what is expected to be a £900bn industry by 2025,” he said.
The UKs auto industry has been growing strongly over the last 10 years and the government hope that driverless vehicle technology could help sustain the industry for decades to come.
These are still early days for the technology and if the tests are successful this would open up the doors to more driverless vehicles including those that could be used in road haulage.
Driverless trucks in Australia's mining industry
Driverless vehicles have already been around for several years in the haulage industry, they have been heavily used by the mining sector. These monster 210 tonne vehicles are monitored via gps and controlled by operators sometimes more than 200 miles away in an office.
Mercedes Benz have developed a driverless truck
which they say could be ready by 2025. Once these vehicles are readily available what happens to the HGV drivers? Will the industry employ fully trained drivers to monitor the cab and unload the goods or technical engineers in case there is a fault? Who knows, all we know is that it is going to be interesting to watch the development and applications of this new technology. It is most definitely a game changer.