Four British cities have been identified as test sites for autonomous cars as the driverless vehicle movement gains momentum. Previous tests have been undertaken in the USA and Europe.
The test sites are Greenwich in London, Bristol, Coventry and Milton Keynes.
The technology behind driverless cars has been available for some time, but obstacles to its widespread adoption include legal restrictions and safety perceptions. In addition to this, it is possible that infrastructure might have to be adapted – or created from scratch – to suit the new breed of autonomous cars.
According to the BBC, Bristol will host the Venturer consortium, which aims to investigate whether driverless cars can reduce congestion and make roads safer. That consortium’s members include the insurance group Axa, whose focus will be on the public’s reaction to the tech as well as the legal and insurance implications of its introduction.
The Gateway project will be undertaken at Greenwich under the leadership of the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory consultancy along with General Motors and motoring associations. Their test schedule is focused less on free-running cars than on a system of automated passenger shuttles and autonomous valet parking for adapted cars. In addition, the BBC says, a self-drive car simulator will make use of a photorealistic 3D model of the area to study how people react to sharing the driving of a vehicle with its computer.
Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and the engineering consultancy Arup are involved in the Milton Keynes trial, which entails both autonomous cars and self-driving pods for pedestrianised areas.