Currently reading: Britain to allow driverless cars on public roads from 2015
New measures announced by business secretary Vince Cable pave the way for autonomous vehicles to be used in trials in cities and towns
Matt Saunders Autocar
News
2 mins read
30 July 2014

The UK car industry will take a lead role in the development of the autonomous car within six months, when three government-funded pilot schemes start across the country that will result in 'driverless' prototypes running in large-scale tests in and around our cities.

Government Business Secretary Vince Cable today announced £10m of funding to be split between three bids, which will be identified via a bidding process administrated by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Technology Strategy Board.

The bids are expected to come from new consortia formed by local governments, car-makers, technology suppliers and associated businesses, and must be submitted by October. 

The winning bids will be selected next year, enabling autonomous cars to take to the roads from January 2015. The pilot schemes will last between 18- and 36 months, and encourage research and development of both driver-supervised and totally driverless vehicles.

At the same time, a reform process of the UK's traffic laws will be undertaken to allow for legal autonomous driving – something that will span right down to a redrafting of The Highway Code. This follows an amendment of Article 8 of The United Nations' Vienna Convention agreed in April, which paves the way for autonomous driving in 72 countries around the world, the UK included.

By the terms of that amendment, which must be enacted into UK law, cars will be allowed to run autonomously on public roads as long as a driver is always able to "override or take control of the car".

Speaking at vehicle test and research facility, MIRA, where he tested a driverless car with the Science Minister Greg Clark, 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."

Today's development follows a pledge made by the UK government last year that it intended to "turn the UK into a world leader for the development of driverless cars".

These UK schemes will beat Volvo's recently announced 'DriveMe' large-scale test of autonomous cars onto the road by up to two years.

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noluddite 31 July 2014

Selectable driving modes

There are times when I am tired & would be happy to be driven, but I would like to select HOW I am driven. As such, I'd like the driver mode to be selectable. Personally I'd like Step On It James, and I'm Not in a Hurry modes. But of course the nature of computers is that anything would be possible. There could be Boy Racer mode (no finesse, just outright speed & max braking), Tailgater mode (makes good use of the radar sensors), and Pensioner mode (waits until gaps exceed 200 yards at every junction).
dgate 31 July 2014

Inward Lookers

Most cannot see beyond the end of their nose when any advancement comes along. They either ridicule the idea or want things to stay forever the same.
One only has to look at the past to see how things have changed in one life span to appreciate the knock on effect any one advancement produces.
One contributor above (rants) where are all those charging points the Government was supposed to install to make electrics feasible? well I suggest he do the research! There are at present over 6,000 public points and counting plus every home and business in the UK has them in an emergency, as a comparison there are approx. 8,500 petrol stations. . To put that in perspective three years ago there were 700 charge points. Some people just like to bitch without learning the facts or are just basically inward looker's !
Mini2 31 July 2014

Chill out!

dgate wrote:

Most cannot see beyond the end of their nose when any advancement comes along. They either ridicule the idea or want things to stay forever the same.
One only has to look at the past to see how things have changed in one life span to appreciate the knock on effect any one advancement produces.
One contributor above (rants) where are all those charging points the Government was supposed to install to make electrics feasible? well I suggest he do the research! There are at present over 6,000 public points and counting plus every home and business in the UK has them in an emergency, as a comparison there are approx. 8,500 petrol stations. . To put that in perspective three years ago there were 700 charge points. Some people just like to bitch without learning the facts or are just basically inward looker's !

Or they just don't share your opinion, which is perfectly alright. Don't get your nickers in such a twist.

dgate 1 August 2014

No Opinion Implied

Merely pointing out how a percentage are reluctant to change. This is fine and a known fact of humans not my opinion, but trashing an idea with feeble dialogue, or going on a tangent such as the Government proposed charging stations remark without research deserves a challenge.
Smilerforce 31 July 2014

Bring it on.

I would like the opportunity to drive and be driven autonomously. The idea of being able to call your car and come to get you on your terms is a great idea for the heavy night out. Drink driving will probably cease to exist. Too an extent I find the daily commute dull. Too many lane hoggers making dual carriageway and motorway driving frustrating.

Then there are those times you just want to get out and drive. Still whatever the case it'll be a life time yet before we are fully autonomus.