With the creation of the #Google self-drive car, it appears that cars that do not need a human driver is fast becoming the near future and the next level of technology to try and ensure a safer driving experience on the roads. However until now the UK #Government has only allowed self-drive cars to be used on private roads. That being said the government had previously stated they wanted to try self-drive cars on British roads by the end of 2013, however Chancellor George Osbourne and business secretary Vince Cable have now outlined measure to permit these cars on public roads by next year.
In December the treasury said there would be a 10 million pound prize, to fund a city or town to become a testing ground for such cars. In a National infrastructure plan of 2013 Chancellor George Osbourne wanted to try and show the world why the UK was an ideal testing ground for the self-drive car, stating that his goal was to show a legislative and regulatory framework that not only shows that the UK is ideal for testing these self-drive cars but also that the UK could be an ideal place to develop them too. UK engineers, such as the ones at Oxford University have however come up against problems in the past, such as legal issue and insurance issue which until now have limited the testing to private roads. However engineering company MIRA have been testing their self-drive cars on an 850 acre site in the Midlands.
For the UK this of course would be a serious boost to the economy provide hundreds of jobs, and show the world just what we can do with technology and engineering. However already the UK is lagging behind its counterparts in the race to have self-drive cars. The US already has states such as Nevada, California and Florida already paving the way, with the Google self-drive car already clocking up a staggering 300,000 miles on the open road. In 2013 in Japan, Nissan carried out its first test of an autonomous vehicle on a public highway.
The Swedish city of Gothenburg is to allow 1000 Volvo driver-less cars on its roads by 2017. All this self-drive car flurry of activity from Governments comes on the back of an announcement in May that Google unveiled plans to build and create 100 autonomous cars, Google already have their autonomous technology in other cars built by other companies too such as Toyota, Audi, and Lexus. That's not all, with General Motors, Nissan, Mercedes Benz and BMW all creating their own version of the autonomous car, its seems most car companies are now getting a slice of the 'self-drive future' action. However, it would seem like the future cars do come with some slight hiccups, with politicians in the US and other countries too concerned about the safety of the vehicles. The FBI warned earlier this month, that, driver-less cars could be used as lethal weapons, saying the vehicles " Will have a high impact on transforming what both law enforcement and criminals alike can operationally do with a car."
So with still some safety concerns and legal battles, uphill struggles are ahead before not just the UK gets its first driver-less car on the public roads, but it would seem the other countries have their issues too. However for the future of humans actually having to drive cars it seems only a short distance away, when the dangers posed by human driving errors could be a thing of the past. With Human error accounting for a staggering 90% of accidents on the road, could this new self-drive autonomous car be the answer to saving lives? The UK seems to think it's something worth sticking their teeth into and by 2015 maybe we will see what we here in the good old UK can come up with.