Britain running real-world trials for driverless cars
Driverless cars are to be tested in all those locations in trials that will put the UK at the forefront of automated vehicle technology, The Guardian newspaper reported.
Government funding of £19m (RM 103m) will allow three separate trials to take place: one in Bristol, one in Greenwich and one split between Coventry and Milton Keynes. The trials, lasting from 18 to 36 months, will test different aspects of self-driving technology. All will take place away from public roads, though each is aimed at making automated vehicles on Britain’s roads a reality.
The trials will use semi-autonomous cars that can drive themselves for periods of the time with a human driver behind the wheel, as well as lightweight self-driving pods designed for low-speed shuttle services. The three projects will be linked by an external monitor who will coordinate all the data.
“We’re looking to start our first trial with automated shuttles with members of the public in May,” said Dr Nick Reed from the Transport Research Lab (TRL), leader of the consortium running the Greenwich trials.
He added: “You’ve got the cream of UK transport organisations distilled into these three projects and each with its own twist on what should be tested.”
The Greenwich trials – named the Gateway project – will involve self-driving shuttles being tested on closed roads and in simulation facilities.
“These shuttles are a relatively mature technology, so our trials will be more about how to manage participants and the vehicles, to get us towards these vehicles being a real proposition for public roads,” Reed said.
The Bristol trials – named the Venturer project – will involve tests investigating legal and insurance issues, as well as public reaction to self-driving cars.
The question of who pays in the event of a crash involving a driverless car is seen as one of the major barriers to letting self-driving cars loose on highways.
The trials in Milton Keynes and Coventry will focus on car-to-car and car-to-road communication and the infrastructure required.