Driverless cars are to be tested on public roads by the end of the year, the United Kingdom Government has announced.
Driverless cars have only been tested on private land so far
So far, trials in the United Kingdom of the autonomous vehicles have taken place on private land only.
Driveless cars are guided by a system of sensors and cameras that are actually seen as potentially more efficient and safer than regular vehicles. As a measure of safety, a back up driver will be riding along during testing of the vehicles, so that they can take over in an emergency.
Plans for the testing have been unveiled in a blueprint by the Department for Transport as part of a £2Bn investment into British roads to reduce congestion. The report says driverless vehicles are capable of driving themselves, using knowledge of their driving environment. The vehicles maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of them at a set speed, without deviating from their own lane. This is all without the input of the driver.
At the moment, the vehicles will be driven on suburban or rural roads that are lightly used in a semi autonomous mode which means that human passengers can intervene if they so wish.
An AA spokesperson said Driverless cars will not be mainstream for a long time
A spokesperson from the AA said that it is early days and driverless cars are not going to be mainstream for a very long time.
The vehicles will be tested by the same team of researchers at Oxford University who have been testing and developing autonomous car technology on a Nissan Lead model, around Oxford Science Park. The technology uses small cameras and lasers to memorise regular journeys such as the school run or the commute.
The announcement in the United Kingdom follows public trials in other areas of the World. The United States leads the way, with Florida, Nevada and California all having passed legislation around driverless cars.