General

Driverless cars on UK roads from next year

Trials from January in London, Bristol, Milton Keynes and Coventry

TRIALS of driverless cars will begin in four UK cities including London from January 2015, Chancellor George Osborne has announced.

Bristol, Milton Keynes, Coventry and Greenwich in south east London will each get a share of £10 million funding to test driverless cars 'in a real-world environment'.

The project in Greenwich will include tests of driverless electric shuttles and is intended to form a model for 'implementation of automated transport systems in London'.

Milton Keynes and Coventry will work together on a project including 'lightweight self-driving pods designed for pedestrianised spaces'.

Bristol's scheme will look at public reaction to driverless cars while the its 'challenging terrain will provide important data that can be used to successfully introduce driverless cars in cities and towns across the UK'.

The trials will last between 18 and 36 months.

Funding was announced today by George Osborne as part of the Government’s autumn financial statement.

Details were announced by the quango Innovative UK.

Nick Jones, the group's lead technologist for the low carbon vehicles innovation, said: 'Cars that drive themselves would represent the most significant transformation in road travel since the introduction of the internal combustion engine and at Innovate UK, we want to help the UK to lead the world in making that happen.

'There are so many new and exciting technologies that can come together to make driverless cars a reality, but it’s vital that trials are carried out safely, that the public have confidence in that technology and we learn everything we can through the trials so that legal, regulation and protection issues don’t get in the way in the future.'

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