Posted on April 25, 2017 by staff

Driverless car tests planned on British motorways by 2019


Driverless cars will be on British roads and motorways by 2019, according to plans unveiled by a consortium of companies.

The Driven group, led by autonomous car software developer Oxbotica, intends to pilot a fleet of vehicles between London and Oxford.

Previously, the only driverless vehicle tests in the UK have taken place at relatively low speeds on private roads.

Driven founder Prof Paul Newman, of Oxford University, said: “We’re moving from the singleton autonomous vehicle to fleets of autonomous vehicles – and what’s interesting is what data the vehicles share with one another, when, and why.”

Although there will be humans on-board, the cars will communicate with each other about any hazards and should operate with almost full autonomy.

The project is backed by an £8.6m government grant and involves an insurance company, which will assess the risks involved at each stage of the journey.

Altogether, the UK government has committed about £100m in total towards autonomous driving projects, and says wants Britain to “lead the way in developing” the tech.

But experts worry the country risks falling behind what is being done abroad.

In February, car giant Ford has pledged £800m ($1bn) over the next five years to artificial intelligence (AI) firm Argo.

Together, the firms will focus on developing an autonomous system for a driverless vehicle, which Ford intends to have ready for launch in 2021.

The firm currently has two autonomous vehicles licensed for testing in California, but a recent report revealed that they only covered 590 miles in 2016.

Argo, which is based in Pittsburgh, has strong foundations in the driverless car sector.