Last week the government announced that they are going to be testing driverless vehicles in three separate trials and this has led to many leading road safety and driving charities and campaigners to get very excited about the potential for a safer, more sustainable future road travel around the UK. Brake, the road safety charity, have also highlighted how effective and successful driverless vehicle trials could be the first step in getting this type of vehicle on the road and in the long run, ending the many road deaths every year.
The trials were launched last week in Greenwich by Transport Minister Claire Perry and Vince Cable, the current UK Business Secretary. The Department of Transport have also published a report which sets out plans for introducing driverless technology across the country.
This video shows Claire Perry and Vince Cable discussing the trials:
The trials are being led by three separate groups over 18 to 36 months and will assess how driverless vehicles can be used in everyday life on public roads and also how they can possibly make road travel safer and more sustainable. There is hope the trials will find ways to improve public and private transport on the busy roads across the UK.
The Department of Transport has published some predicted benefits of driverless technology in their report:
- Save six working weeks for the average driver in England that they would otherwise have spent driving
- Cut the 94% of road deaths and injuries which are attributed to or partly due to human error
- Providing better quality, more affordable transport for everyone, including those who don’t hold a full driving licence
Each of the trials is being monitored and advised by professional representatives from leading road safety, road management and government groups and for the Greenwich trial, known as the GATEway Project has the deputy chief executive of Brake, Julie Townsend, will be on the advisory panel.
These new trials aren’t the first development of driverless vehicles in the UK. Engineers at the University of Oxford are working on this technology too, as well as the engineering company Mira, which already provides autonomous vehicle technology for military purposes.
Driverless vehicles remove the risk of human error on the roads which, as stated previously, plays a key role in many accidents, resulting injuries and fatalities. Despite this many drivers are still wary of driving a fully autonomous vehicle but perhaps this is something that will change with time.