A driverless car which will carry passengers is all set to take over the public roads in Britain for the first time ever.
This comes as a part of the trials which have been aimed at paving the way for the autonomous cars to make their entry onto the highways by the end of the decade. The British government is encouraging the automakers, technology-based companies, and many start-ups to work together in developing and testing their autonomous driving technology. The main aim is to design and construct an industry that can serve a global market whose worth is roughly estimated to be approximately 900 billion pounds ($1.1 trillion) by 2025. The British business minister said that the worldwide market for manufacturing autonomous vehicles will present a lot of opportunities to the automobile and technology firms. The software and technology research that has been involved in building these vehicles will have many global applications apart from the autonomous vehicles.
Earlier in 2016, the British government had made consultations regarding changes in the rules and regulations for motoring and insurance, which will allow using the driverless cars by 2020 and their testing on the motorways should start off from next year.
Self-Driving Pod on the British Streets
A self-driving car or more appropriately called the pod, called the autonomous Lutz Pathfinder Pod is a small car with just two seats, which has been developed by Oxbotica, an Oxford Robotics Institute, and Oxford University spin-off company. The modified Renault car took to the roads of a small Southern English town of Milton Keynes, which is located almost 70 km (45 miles) north of London. This place was selected along with three other small towns for the driverless car trial testing since they have a cycle path network and wide pavements. Since it is a tentative start and to be assured of the safety of the pedestrians, the car was run at very low speeds of just 5 mph in areas which have sparse traffic.
The Transport Systems Catapult, a non-profit and government-sponsored trial organizer, was hoping that the trials will be able to feed vital information about how the pod will interact with other vehicles on the road, turning corners, and stopping for pedestrians who crossed its path. This testing is considered as a milestone by Great Britain especially because it has been lagging behind in testing the self-driving cars when compared to the United States.
Pod Operation Details
The self-driving pod will be fully operated without any manual and human control. It will use software developed by Oxbotica to gather data from the radars and cameras which will help it to move on the public roads which is regularly used by pedestrians. The vehicle is egg-shaped with a purple compact body, electric battery, and LIDAR sensors. The pod looks more like the driverless prototypes from Google, unlike the traditional self-driving cars which are currently under testing in the US.
The popular British carmakers like Jaguar Land Rover and Ford are a part of the projects involving the development of driverless cars and are looking to head-off other technology firms like Uber and Google of Alphabet Inc. which are also looking forward to developing autonomous vehicles. But it requires all the parties to work together to overcome the legal and technological obstacles including making decisions like who will be held responsible in case of any accident and other safety concerns, keeping in mind the recent accidents which involved driving assistance systems.
However, Britain is looking forward to being more flexible with its approach towards self-driving cars, when compared to the rules across the different states of the Unites States. Germany has said it will require black boxes to be fixed in the driverless vehicles.