Driverless cars to be tested in the UK

The UK will become a testing ground for cutting-edge autonomous vehicles, according to Innovate UK.

Four cities in the UK will be used as part of a multi-million pound investment on behalf of the government, with Bristol, Greenwich, Coventry and Milton Keynes all earmarked for trialling the new cars.

Trials are due to begin from January 1st and could last up to 36 months, with each area due to take part in a different set of assessments.

Bristol is due to assess the impact of the new driverless vehicles on existing traffic congestion and road safety, and will also gauge public reaction to the new self-driving technology.

Self-driving buses

Greenwich, meanwhile, will instead trial the Gateway scheme which will test the viability of self-driving passenger buses and automatic valet parking technology.

Finally, Coventry and Milton Keynes will both be involved in the initial testing of self-driving cars on closed roads, and will also help to develop driverless pods for use in pedestrian-only zones.

As part of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, which was released last week, the government will provide an additional £9m towards the project, boosting total government investment to £19m.

Some of the automotive industry companies involved include Ford and Jaguar Land Rover, along with engineering consultancy Arup, all of whom are due to provide additional funding to the project.

Jaguar Land Rover

Jaguar Land Rover officially joined the driverless car race in November after telling the UK government that it will produce its own self-driving vehicle within the decade.

In a submission to the Commons Transport Committee, the marque said: “The UK has successes in the field as far back as 1996 when Jaguar was the first to market with Adaptive Cruise Control in the Jaguar XK.

“More recently, our Land Rover Discovery Vision concept showed how a car might anticipate a driver’s needs from seat settings and music to alerting people at their destination that they may be late.

“Our new Discovery Sport model was revealed earlier this month with autonomous emergency breaking. Our future vision is to offer a choice of an engaged or autonomous drive, a vehicle that makes the most of big data and data sharing.”

Other cutting-edge technology being worked on by the manufacturer includes new artificially intelligent car software, which can “learn” about the preferences of its driver.