Driverless cars could soon be seen on a street near you, with the announcement that the government has injected £20 Million into eight separate research and development programmes.
This doesn’t mean that it’s likely you’ll look out of the window and see a bunch of cars without drivers in the coming weeks. The initial priority is to ensure safety in a “restricted testing phase.” Limited tests are in fact already underway in cities including Milton Keynes and Bristol.
One of the biggest test projects will take place in the Coventry area, where over 40 miles of roads are being set up with the infrastructure to facilitate the autonomous technology. The cars will use “vehicle to vehicle” communication.
Driverless Cars at Heathrow and Greenwich
If you’ve used Terminal 5 at London’s Heathrow Airport, you may have actually already been in a driverless car. The futuristic pod vehicles that transport passengers to the business car parking areas are using the core technology of driverless cars, even though they currently run on dedicated tracks. Take a look at the video below!
It’s these pods that will break free from their tracks later this year, when they are planned to take to the pavements of Greenwich. The plan is for the vehicles to be in operation as soon as July.
According to a This is Money report, the public is rather split on whether they trust driverless cars. A recent survey found that nearly half the respondents wouldn’t be willing to travel in an autonomous vehicle. This result was no doubt influenced by reports of accidents during Google’s driverless car tests in America.
Despite this, the government are clearly keen to blaze the trail in the use of this technology, with the £20 Million recently allocated only representing a fifth of the budget that’s been promised. The autonomous vehicle market is predicted to be worth £900 Billion within a decade, which seems to suggest that these developments will quickly gather pace.