UK government Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has announced two new measures that give the green light for driverless cars to take to UK roads from January 2015.
UK cities can now bid for a share of a £10 million competition to host a driverless cars trial. The government is calling on cities to join together with businesses and research organisations to put forward proposals to become a test location.
Up to three cities will be selected to host the trials from next year, with each project expected to last between 18 and 36 months starting in January 2015.
Ministers have also launched a review to look at current road regulations to establish how the UK can remain at the forefront of driverless car technology and ensure there is an appropriate regime for testing driverless cars in the UK.
Two areas of driverless technology will be covered in the review: cars with a qualified driver who can take over control of the driverless car; and fully autonomous vehicles where there is no driver.
Speaking at vehicle engineering consultancy, test and research facility, MIRA, where he tested a driverless car with the UK 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.”
Indian giant, Tech Mahindra, is a developer in the driverless car, autonomous capability, telematics and digital cockpit technology for six of top 10 car manufacturers globally. It welcomed the UK announcement, with Karthikeyan Natarajan, head of integrated engineering solutions stating: “It’s great to see countries preparing for this technology. Most importantly, autonomous vehicles have the potential to save countless lives in traffic incidents and improved emission efficiency if supported through appropriate regulatory framework. Driverless cars have the potential to cut fuel consumption by more than half. This move is a big step in the right direction. However, both legal and physical infrastructure needs to be in place for the introduction of these machines.”