The UK government has announced that driverless cars will be allowed on public roads from January 2015. UK engineers, including those at the University of Oxford, have been experimenting with driverless cars for some years now, but, concerns about legalalites and insurance have so far restricted the machines to private roads.
Other countries have, however, been swifter to provide access to public routes. In 2013, Nissan carried out Japan’s first public road test of an autonomous vehicle on a highway and in The USA, California, Nevada and Florida have all approved tests of the vehicles. In California alone, Google’s driverless car has done more than 300,000 miles on the open road.
However, it now seem that the UK is set to catch up with its foreign counterparts, and from early next year we can expect to see self driving cars take to the roads. In addition, Government ministers ordered a review of the UK’s road regulations to provide appropriate guidelines for driverless cars.
This will cover the need for self-drive vehicles to comply with safety and traffic laws, and involve changes to the Highway Code, which applies to England, Scotland and Wales. Two area will be examined by the review: how the rules should apply to vehicles in which the driver can take back control at short notice, and how they should apply to vehicles in which there is no driver.
While some may find the prospect of driverless cars scary, considering that 93 per cent of all traffic collisions involve human error, they’re intended to save lives.