Oxford University's Mobile Robotics Group currently leads UK autonomous car research
The government has revealed a plan to turn the UK into a world leader for the development of driverless cars.
In its far-reaching National Infrastructure Plan, unveiled in full today, the government said it will “conduct a review, reporting at the end of 2014, to ensure that the legislative and regulatory framework demonstrates to the world’s car companies that the UK is the right place to develop and test driverless cars”.
Presently, the UK’s hub for driverless car development is at Oxford University, where the Mobile Robotics Group (MRG) is researching with an adapted Nissan Leaf.
But other nations are further advanced with their driverless car programmes; Google has racked up more than 100,000 miles of testing with its converted Toyota Prius, and last week Volvo announced a plan to put 100 autonomous vehicles on public roads around Gothenburg in Sweden by 2017.
Local and national laws in Arizona and Tokyo are already being revised to allow live testing of autonomous cars, and the UK government has identified the need to keep pace.
As an incentive to accelerate development, the government has put up a £10 million prize for a town or city to develop itself as a testing ground for driverless cars.
The government said it believed that “driverless cars are innovative technology that will change the way the world’s towns and cities look and the way people travel; they present opportunities for the British automotive industry in the manufacture of the cars and the wider science and engineering sectors in the design of towns.”
Photo: John Cairns