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UK Testing of Driverless Cars Coming in January

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UK testing of driverless cars

UK testing of driverless cars will come before US testing of the Google self-driving vehicle

Driverless cars have been in the news a lot lately, and for good reason. The technology that would allow vehicles to navigate the roads with little to no help from a human driver is both frightening and exciting. Frightening because it will involve us drivers having to relinquish control of our vehicles and trust a computer to do the work; exciting because, well, driverless cars! And now, the UK has announced its intention to become a pioneer of this incredible technology by beginning testing of driverless cars on its roads in January 2015.

Britain’s announcement comes not long after US-based Google released its driverless car, whose cutesy demeanor resembles some kind of nightmarish stuffed animal. Despite its weird looks, the Google driverless car was well received by testers. Google anticipates that California will soon pass legislation to allow the testing of the cars sans driver. But in the UK, that legislation already exists, and in 2015 driverless cars will be tested in various categories, including semi-autonomous (with a driver in the vehicle ready to take over if and when needed) and completely autonomous (no backup driver necessary). Wonder how the guys at Top Gear feel about this?

clarkson

Hmm. That seems a bit… jolly.

angry clarkson

Yeah, that’s probably a bit more accurate.

The UK testing of driverless cars will last between 18 and 36 months, and will take place in up to three as-yet-unnamed cities. The British government wants local governments, businesses, and organizations to work together to find the perfect locations for testing, which will presumably help the government decide where the testing will occur. All in all, Britain will spend $17 million on testing autonomous vehicles—an amount that might meet with some resistance given the current state of the economy.

If driverless cars become the norm, the expectation is that traffic will move more smoothly, and there will be fewer accidents road rage incidents. But is this realistic, or just a utopian dream? Looks like we won’t have to wait very long to find out.

road rage

  • Cat HilesManaging Editor

    Catherine Hiles is a native Brit currently based in Dayton, Ohio. Don't ask how that happened. Cat has written about a variety of subjects, from dog training to fashion, and counts running and cooking among her hobbies. Cat lives with her husband, Ben; their daughter, Rose; and their collection of animals, including an energetic mutt, an elderly basset hound, and a jerk cat. See more articles by Cat.