Self-Driving Cars To Hit Public UK Roads From 2015 Photo:
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Trevor Collett | Jul, 31 2014 | 2 Comments

The UK has become the latest jurisdiction to allow self-driving cars to operated on public streets, with plans for a government-funded trial revealed today.

Three separate testing programs will share £10 million (AU$18.1 million) of funding, aimed at assessing autonomous cars in and around UK cities.

Autonomous cars will be monitored with and without drivers behind the wheel, with the trial set to last between 18 and 36 months.

The tender process is currently open to any interested parties, so it remains to be seen exactly which companies, government organisations and carmakers will take up the offer.

UK road rules are expected to be updated before the trial begins, as current laws around the world have been a ‘road-block’ of sorts to the progress of autonomous cars.

The UN recently updated its Convention on Road Traffic to allow drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel, provided an ‘override’ was available to them while the vehicle was driving itself.

In 2013, the UK Government announced its intentions for the Kingdom to be a world leader in the development of self-driving cars.

"The excellence of our scientists and engineers has established the UK as a pioneer in the development of driverless vehicles through pilot projects,” UK Government Business Secretary Vince Cable said, speaking with Autocar.

"Today’s announcement will see driverless cars take to our streets in less than six months, putting us at the forefront of this transformational technology and opening up new opportunities for our economy and society.”

The UK scheme in 2015 will join a program from Volvo testing on public roads in Sweden this year, while Google, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Honda and others are also assessing autonomous technology.

MORE: Autonomous news, UK news

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