Autonomous automobiles

Posted on 10 March 2017 by CarTakeBack

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We've seen them in sci-fi films over the years and over the past few years we've read about them being tested in other countries like America and Australia, but self-driving vehicles have made it to the UK! Trials have started to test the compatibility and popularity of these vehicles in Milton Keynes, a perfect place to test them out as the city centre is set out in a grid, plus a there's a very efficient system of pedestrian and cycle routes known as ‘Redways’ that link up the whole city.

The trial consisted of the two seater self-drive vehicles, or 'Pods' as they are named, taking a passenger on 1km loops around the town's train station. There was a driver on standby to take control of the vehicle in case of an emergency. The Pod uses technology called Selenium which was developed at Oxford University in their Robotics Institute. This technology uses a combined data from LIDAR systems, which is essentially cameras and lasers measuring targeted distances. There is currently a three year plan for tests in Milton Keynes and Coventry, using 40 Pods. Tests will include the Pods being introduced to motorways this year!

The government are discussing insurance and regulations to make sure everyone is safe and legally covered, this will include making changes to the highway code. There's a debate as to how safe these vehicles are, the director of the Robotics Institute in Oxford explained that he believes this development could cut down car accidents due to human error. However, there are questions about malfunctions in the programme and accidents caused by system failures. All safety features are being scrutinised and further developments and tests are continuing to make sure accidents are reduced.

It has been predicted that by 2020 driverless cars will be a more common sight on our roads. This isn’t too far away, we look forward to seeing what's next for driverless cars in the UK!

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