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Driverless cars to be tested in four UK cities in 2015

Driverless cars to be trialled in London, Bristol, Coventry & Milton Keynes.

In the recent Autumn Statement, autonomous and driverless cars were given the green light for trials.

South-east London’s Greenwich and Bristol will each host its own project, while Coventry and Milton Keynes will share a third.

The public body Innovate UK has announced that the trials will last between 18 and 36 months, beginning in January 2015.

Trials in Greenwich to test new automated transport systems

The Greenwich Automated Transport Environment project (GATEway) will be led by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL). It aims to test automated electric shuttle buses for use around pedestrianised spaces as a public transport option.

In addition, it will judge public reaction with this slower and safer “off-road” trial, whilst additional trials will explore autonomous valet parking and tele-operated driving. A third set of trials is still being drafted, which could include on-road test for its driverless vehicles.

“The combination of TRL’s independent expertise, robust, reliable testing protocols, and driving simulation facilities alongside the diverse and high calibre qualities of our consortium means we can safely demonstrate automated vehicles to build acceptance and trust in this revolutionary technology,” said Rob Wallis, TRL chief executive.

Bristol will run the VENTURER project to assess whether driverless cars can increase safety and ease congestion.

UK Autodrive Programme to be shared between Milton Keynes and Coventry

Both cities will share the programme from UK Autodrive, a consortium which includes car manufacturers Jaguar Land Rover and Ford, alongside other companies and several universities.

The programme will test a semi-autonomous Range Rover on the roads around Coventry and Milton Keynes in order to analyse infrastructure and develop improvements for autonomous cars navigating real roads.

Lightweight self-driving pods have also been designed to carry individuals around the pedestrianised areas of Milton Keynes.

Revolutionising the automotive industry

“Cars that drive themselves would represent the most significant transformation in road travel since the introduction of the internal combustion engine,” said Nick Jones, lead technologist at Innovate UK, the government innovation agency.

While the thought of driverless cars transporting people is exciting, Mr Jones highlights that caution is paramount.

“It’s vital that trials are carried out safely, that the public have confidence in that technology, and we learn everything we can through the trials so that legal, regulation and protection issues don’t get in the way in the future,” he added.

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