£20m is being invested in driverless cars, meaning they could hit our roads sooner than we thought.
Fresh from the Government’s £100m Intelligent Mobility Fund, eight new projects in the UK have been given the green light to research and develop driverless car technology.
The global intelligent mobility market, as it’s known, is estimated to be worth £900bn per year by 2025. Driverless cars are expected to alert drivers to road traffic accidents and give them other information about hazards on their route, but whether they will be trusted by people used to being in control of their own vehicle is another matter.
Current Driverless Car Projects
So, eight projects are being funded to develop technologies that, according to Business Secretary Sajid Javid, will “make getting from A to B safer, faster and cleaner.”
Full details can be found on the gov.uk website but here’s a summary of some of the projects that caught my eye:
- Cars like airport shuttles – vehicles adapted from shuttle pods used at Heathrow Airport are being developed to work without tracks and will be tested on the streets of London this summer.
- Talking cars sent to Coventry – the UKCITE project, short for UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment, will test out ‘talking car’ technologies on 40 miles of Coventry roads.
- Understanding what people want – the ‘Flourish’ project will investigate users’ needs and requirements with regards to driverless cars and will look in particular at the needs of the elderly. Research and testing will take place in Bristol.
The vast majority of road collisions are caused by human error, so any efforts to make our roads safer is to be welcomed. What we don’t know, however, is how the new technology will be adopted by the public. If you’re used to driving your own car, feel confident in your ability to react to hazards in time and actually enjoy the experience of driving, would you feel ready to hand over control to an autonomous machine, however technologically advanced it may be?
That remains to be seen, but I continue to watch developments in driverless car technology with a keen interest.