It has been reported that the Greenwich, Milton Keynes and Coventry areas have been chosen to test run the latest invention in automotive technology: the driverless car. Also known as an 'autonomous,' 'self-driving' or even sometimes 'robotic' car, these vehicles are capable of functioning the same way a traditional car would. This also means that they are more than capable of being able to navigate without the need for human intervention.
As weird and dangerous as this might sound, the trials have supposedly been granted permission by the Government who have stated that there aren't any legal laws preventing this type of testing on public roads.
It has also been reported that some of the cars, particularly the shuttle which is being test run in Greenwich, have been installed with sensors which will help alert them to any road hazards including other vehicles and pedestrians. There is also the option for a qualified driver to take over control if deemed necessary.
It is estimated that in the coming years this market will be worth around £900bn. The trials are taking place in the hopes that UK designers will take up charge and becoming leading competitors in this field. If the idea of a driverless car isn't enough to spur them on, then the £19m fund from the Government is sure to provide enough encouragement and help boost the spirits of any keen designing companies.
The hope is that, in the future, these cars will be able to save motorists around six working days each year in driving time. Other goals include that of the reduction of emissions and congestion along with improvements in safety.
Despite the initial hype, it is important to remember that there are many more years of testing to be carried out before we will be seeing them available to buy on the market. UK designers will need to work quickly however in order to beat the Americans to the finish line as US tests of Google's version of the driverless car have been going on for a number of years now with various other companies beginning to show off their variety of designs.