Autonomous Automobiles Could Be Hitting Our Roads Next Year!
According to Business Secretary Vince Cable, cars could be driving their own way around the UK’s streets from as early as January next year.
Mr Cable said that computer-controlled cars would be trialled in three cities around the UK, with government funding of £10 million being made available to develop the technology and being split between these cities.The tests are intended to run for between 18 and 36 months and cities who are interested in hosting the trials will be able to make their enthusiasm known at the start of October.
At the moment, driverless cars can be driven on private roads but it is illegal for a car to be operated without a driver in control when on public roads. Because of this, ministers are going to be reviewing the UK’s road regulations for autonomous vehicles to provide appropriate guidelines by the end of the year.
Some cars on the road today do hold some degree of autonomy – cruise control, self-parking, automatic braking, etc – the term “driverless car” generally refers to a vehicle that takes charge of the main aspects of driving, like steering, accelerating and braking for most, if not all, of a journey.
While driverless cars could be likened to an aeroplane on autopilot, the problems lie in how busy roads are compared with the emptiness of the sky, as well as all of the twists and turns that a road proffers instead of a straight line from A to B. This means that creating the right technology has been whittled down to a fine art and is still in development stages.
“The excellence of our scientists and engineers has established the UK as pioneers in the development of driverless vehicles through pilot projects,” explained Mr Cable, adding that such cars could be on our streets within six months, “opening up new opportunities for our economy and society.”
The UK is by no means the first to be testing this kind of technology on public roads. Japan already tested Nissan’s autonomous vehicle in 2013, and US states California, Florida and Nevada have all approved such tests – Google’s driverless car travelled for more than 300,000 miles (483,000km) in California. Gothenburg in Sweden has also given Volvo the go-ahead to test 100 of their autonomous automobiles, but the trial isn’t actually scheduled until 2017.
Something interesting to think about, though, is the results of a new survey commissioned by Churchill Insurance. 2,006 people were asked if they would by a car that could drive itself, but a whopping 56% said they wouldn’t, with more than 60% of those citing fears of malfunction.