Britain to Allow Driverless Cars on the Road in January 2015

Wednesday, 30 July 2014 - 11:24AM
Wednesday, 30 July 2014 - 11:24AM

Move over, Google, because Britain is pioneering institutionalized use of driverless cars.


While Google released their prototype of a self-driving car with no steering wheel or pedals in May, Britain will go so far as to legalize use of driverless cars on the road in three different cities starting in January 2015. Cities all over Britain will bid for the opportunity to host the tests, which will proceed for 18-36 months. The project will receive 10 million euros of government funding. 


Business Secretary Vince Cable said, "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."


Driverless cars, which are guided by a combination of sensors and cameras, have previously been tested in several countries, such as the United States and Japan. Sweden will test driverless cars on the road in 2017, and Nevada, Florida, and California have all legalized the use of robotic cars on the road for testing purposes. However, while it may seem that this technology is gaining traction, there is still a significant amount of opposition from the average driver. A recent survey from AA cars found that 43 percent of its members did not agree with the legalization of this technology. 


AA president Edmund King said drivers were "still resistant to change" and that they "enjoy driving too much to ever want the vehicle to take over from them." Similarly, RAC technical director David Bizley said, "Many vehicles already have features such as automatic braking and it is claimed that driverless technology is able to identify hazards more effectively than a person can. But many motorists will be concerned about not being able to control the speed of their vehicle for the conditions or layout of the road in front of them." 


As the driverless car is still in the testing stages, it is impossible to say for certain whether these fears are unfounded. That being said, the Google driverless car boasted 700,000 miles of autonomous driving in April 2014, with only two accidents on record. In the case of one of the accidents, a human was driving the car manually, and the other incident involved a driverless car being rear-ended by a human-controlled car while stopped at a traffic light.


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