Driverless Cars to Be Tested on the Road in Four British Cities
In July, Britain announced that they would allow driverless cars on the road starting in January 2015. Now, Innovate UK has announced four cities in which the tests will take place, including several on public roads. Greenwich and Bristol will each host a testing project, and a third project will be hosted by both Coventry and Milton Keynes.
In Greenwich, the Transport Research Laboratory will use the autonomous vehicle technology as public transport. The driverless vans will be able to hold up to ten people, and will test them in "off-road" locations in order to gauge public reaction before trying them out on public roads. A second set of trials will test autonomous valet parking and tele-operated driving, which would allow a human driver to remotely control a driverless car that encountered a problem on the road. A third set of trials will then test autonomous passenger vehicles on public roads with the potential for mass consumption.
In Bristol, the "challenging terrain" of the city will be used to assess any potential problems inherent to the concept of the driverless car, and the Venturer consortium will attempt to determine the legal implications and insurance procedures surrounding the vehicles, as well as public reaction and the question of whether autonomous cars would decrease congestion and make roads safer.
Finally, in the joint project which will take place in Coventry and Milton Keynes, the cars will be tested on public roads with "increasing levels of autonomy." Many different car manufacturers are involved in the project, as well as prestigious educational institutions such as Oxford and Cambridge University.
There are many concerns surrounding the safety of driverless cars, but the early results from the Google driverless car have been promising. It boasted 700,000 miles of autonomous driving in April 2014 with only two accidents on record, both of which were the result of human error. Hopefully, this more extensive testing will be a further indication of whether this technology is ready for the general public.