Monday, July 29, 2013

Driverless car technology zooming into the UK

Could the information superhighway soon be moulded to the tarmac highway? It could if Google and other developers of driverless, electric and other ‘smart’ vehicles break through with the technology.

Google’s driverless car is scheduled to hit UK roads as early as next summer for test drives. But in the US, three states have already passed laws to allow cars to be driven automatically, by censors and software, rather than by human hands.

There is almost certainly a future for semi-autonomous – or even autonomous – vehicles in the UK and abroad. Transport minister Patrick McLoughlin is already preparing his department to implement new strategies for UK roads on which automatic cars will feature prominently.

The trials will begin on rural roads, and will be in the presence of a back-up driver in the case of an emergency. Guided by censors, the vehicles are programmed to keep a safe distance from the car in front and to stay in the same lane.

Researchers at Oxford University are currently trialling a RobotCar that communicates with the driver via an iPad. Bill Ford Jr, the head of the Ford motor company, expects driverless vehicles to be commonplace by 2025.


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