The government has given the go-ahead for Autodrive’s driverless car trials to begin on public roads. The first trials will be held in Milton Keynes and Coventry by the end of this year, using pods like those used in Greenwich trials previously.
Ford, Tata Motors and Jaguar have collaborated on the Autodrive project to show the way driverless cars can communicate with each other and it hopes to test its cars on public roads later in the year.
Even if a human must still be at the wheel, the cars can warn drivers if there is an emergency service vehicle (such as a police car or ambulance) nearby so they can avoid it and also, sense the presence of other autonomous vehicles, letting the driver know if there is a risk of collision.
Another demonstration showed how the autonomous cars were able to display real-time traffic information to passengers as they are traveling around, including a temporary change in speed limit or lane closures ahead.
“The successful completion of the proving ground trials marks a significant milestone for the project team, and we are now looking forward to demonstrating the benefits of these exciting new technologies in the real-world settings of Milton Keynes and Coventry,” said Tim Armitage, Arup’s UK Autodrive project director.
“Once the technology becomes widely available, we anticipate huge potential benefits in terms of road safety, improved traffic flow and general access to transport, so we’re really excited about being able to demonstrate this on real roads.”
01/08/2017: 45% of Brits think manufacturers should be responsible for driverless accidents
Some 45% of 3000 citizens think that manufacturers of autonomous tech have to be responsible when an accident happens rather than the driver being at fault, research by Direct Line has revealed.
The chief executive of Direct Line Group Paul Geddes, said that communicating the benefits of driverless car technologies is essential if it’s going to be successful and will help the country migrate to using automated vehicles.
He added that improvements in autonomous car technology will result in a huge shift for both the insurance and motoring industry. We should be able to get people’s feelings, reactions and actions toward this recent technology.
Gedde’s words were in response to the research that revealed 39% of British people are willing to embrace driverless cars on the streets, but the population is still uncertain who would be at fault if the cars were involved in an accident.
A third of surveyed people think driverless cars would make the UK’s roads safer, while two thirds said they would like a car that they control fully with the machine only taking control if needed.
A fifth of Brits told Direct Line they feel machines are able to decide in a more efficient way than us, and more than half are uncertain they would use automated cars because they enjoy driving too much.
25/04/2017: Government pledges £38m for driverless car trials
The government will be offering £38m towards driverless car trials in the UK as part of Theresa May’s Industrial Strategy, which aims to make the UK a leader in various sectors including AI, robotics and driverless car technologies.
The newly set up Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) said although funding for robotics and AI projects has had the go ahead, projects wanting a slice of the autonomous car cash will need to have a solid business case for the money.
The government hopes to work with industry partners – we presume car manufacturers and other technologists working in the sector – to help make the country a leader in driverless car tech.
“The UK is home to some of the world’s best innovators at the very forefront of global excellence,” Business Secretary Greg Clark said. “The funding I am announcing today, providing hundreds of millions of pounds of support to develop the next generation of technologies across a range of sectors, shows our determination and commitment to making sure the UK remains at the very forefront of research innovation for years to come.”
The Department for Business and Transport has also announced it will be contributing money towards the sector, revealing it has invested £12.8m to research and develop self-driving technology for trials being carried out by FiveAI, Direct Line, the University of Oxford, Transport for London and the Transport Research Laboratory.
The scheme will include developing the technology for fully autonomous driverless car systems, offering passengers the ability to order a driverless car by smartphone app by 2019.
06/04/2017: The UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) has trialled self-driving shuttles in Greenwich, hping to prove to the world that these self-driving machines are safe and convenient.
Local residents will be able to take advantage of the automated shuttle service, which is hoping to ferry 100 people around the O2 Arena.
“This is a great way to connect all of those people with those existing transport hubs,” Simon Tong, a research scientist at TRL, told The Telegraph.
The shuttles will operate on a pre-set route around the arena, although they won’t break any speed record, traveling at just 10mph, using cameras and LIDAR to avoid obstacles, such as other people.
Each of the pods can transport up to four people and although there isn’t a driver, a technician will be onboard, just in case it comes across any problems along the route.
Graeme Smith, chief executive of Oxbotica, the company that has developed the transport added: “This needs to be like any other form of transportation. It shouldn’t be a white-knuckle ride for passengers. We know we’ve got the software right when the journeys are unremarkable.”
03/04/2017: Government releases £55m for development of driverless car superhighway
The UK government has opened up a pot of money to help get public testing of autonomous cars on the UK’s roads underway.
The government will contribute £55m of its pledged £100m to set up a “testing cluster” between London and Birmingham. The cluster and funding was announced by industry secretary Greg Clark, who will be spearheading the campaign to make the UK a powerhouse when it comes to driverless cars.
“By 2035 the global market for connected and autonomous vehicle technologies is predicted to be worth £63bn,” Clark said. “Our investment and collaboration with industry to build on our strengths and create a cluster of excellence that will ensure we are at the forefront of its development and perfectly positioned to lead and capitalise on this market.”
He was talking to attendees at the SMTT Connected conference in London, getting the audience excited about what the UK will have to offer and how the UK’s tech industry has a big part to play in making driverless cars the norm.
“Human error is a more dependable source of accidents and fatalities than well tested, well demonstrated, and well regulated technologies,” Clark said.
“We don’t want to get back to waving a red flag in front of vehicles on the road…. We can get it right and we need to have that common sense application that this is about making changes that will save lives.”
He referenced the falling numbers of people dying on the roads, with figures decreasing from 6,400 in 1975 to 3,600 a year in 2016. He said that as the majority of fatalities are caused by human error, it’s a natural progression of in-car safety to remove humans from the equation.
14/07/2017: Department of Transport invites public to feed back on autonomous cars
The Department of Transport has invited UK citizens to give feedback on whether they think testing autonomous cars on the streets of Britain is a good thing or not.
If the public agrees with the use of automated vehicles, the rules and regulations will be changed so self-driving cars can be insured to be driven on public roads. As part of the plans, the Highway Code will be changed to support the safe use of remote control parking and motorway assist features.
“The ABI’s Automated Driving Insurer Group has been engaged in constructive and productive discussions with the DfT for many months now so it is good to see the importance of insurance to the vehicles of the future recognised within this consultation,” James Dalton, Director of General Insurance Policy at the Association of British Insurers (ABI), said.
“The development of automated driving will revolutionise motoring, potentially as important a road safety innovation as the seatbelt. Insurers strongly support the government’s ambition of making the UK a world leader in this technology and believe the insurance industry has a key role in helping give consumers confidence in using these vehicles when they become more widely available.”
The government is also planning to launch a competition that will award those with innovative ideas using autonomous technologies with £30 million from the Intelligent Mobility Fund. It’s all being done to help the UK become a superpower in autonomous tech and self-driving technologies, the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said.
“Driverless car technology will revolutionise the way we travel and deliver better journeys,” McLoughlin explained.
“Britain is leading the way but I want everyone to have the chance to have a say on how we embrace and use these technologies. Our roads are already some of the safest in the world and increasing advanced driver assist and driverless technologies have the potential to help cut the number of accidents further.”