The Government has given the go-ahead for driverless cars to be tested on public roads in a bid to encourage companies developing the technology to invest in the country.
A comprehensive review has revealed there is no legal barrier to the testing of self-driving cars, although some road regulations and car maintenance checks will be necessary to accommodate them on the roads.
“Driverless cars are the future. I want Britain to be at the forefront of this exciting new development, to embrace a technology that could transform our roads and open up a brand new route for global investment,” Transport Minister Claire Perry said in a statement.
The Government will publish a code of practice in the spring for those wishing to test driverless vehicles on UK roads, but testing will be restricted to vehicles with a person present and able to take control should the need arise.
Now the industry has been given the green light, Transport Minister Claire Perry and Business Secretary Vince Cable have unveiled today the self-driving pods at Greenwich in south London, which will be used in the trials for the first time.
“The government’s industrial strategy is backing the automotive sector as it goes from strength to strength, we are giving business the confidence to invest over the long term and developing cutting-edge technology that will create high skilled jobs,” Vince Cable said.
The projects benefiting from £19m government funding for driverless car trials will be rolled out in Bristol, Milton Keynes and Coventry, with the Greenwich project building on the pioneering work begun last year by Oxford University in partnership with Nissan.
“The projects we are now funding in Greenwich, Bristol, Milton Keynes and Coventry will help to ensure we are world-leaders in this field and able to benefit from what is expected to be a £900 billion industry by 2025,” Cable said.
Domestic regulations are expected to be reviewed and amended to accommodate the new technology in the summer of 2017, and it will not be until the end of the following year that international regulations are likely to be amended.
“It’s thrilling to see these trials get underway in Greenwich, really cementing the area’s reputation as a place of innovation and investment,” Councillor Denise Hyland, leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich said.
“Greenwich Peninsula provides the ideal location for us to explore what this technology can offer people and how it will eventually be implemented in the real world.”