The UK has decided to pave the way for the development of driverless cars. The government has announced the release of a 20 million £ investment fund for companies that wish to help with further development in the field.
With leading car-makers rushing to get their own models out on the market, the UK no doubt wants to lead the charge. Companies are invited to present their ideas as to how the autonomous vehicles can communicate between themselves or how to make them easier to use for older people.
Propositions for increased safety of the vehicles are also wanted. Those companies that apply should keep in mind that the 20 million £ must be matched with their own money. Regardless, there should be many car-makers who can afford and desire to join the program.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid is confident that this fund, combined with the already developed car industry, will make the UK a prime candidate for future investors. He believes that the country should be quick to invest in new technologies that have high possible profit chance in the future.
In line with all of this the Department for Transport has published a Code of Practice for the testing of autonomous cars. It aims to ensure a maximum of safety when these vehicles are tested on public roads, whereas up until now they have been restricted to pedestrian areas only.
All the cars will require an alert back-up driver to take control of the vehicle in case something goes wrong. These drivers will have to be properly ensured, own an active driving license and, like regular drivers, will not be allowed to talk on the phone even when they are not directly operating the car.
The car must also be equipped with a data storing system so that if a crash happens the reason can be pinpointed precisely. Authorities need to be announced when self-driving car tests take place in the area in order for emergency services to be readily available.
With this move it is likely that Britain will take the lead in the area. However, the Code does not represent proper legislation but only a set of interim guidelines. Other countries like Germany also intend to support the development and implementation of driverless cars but have yet to take a concrete step like the UK did.
In the US five states have adopted legislation that clearly allows for autonomous vehicles to be openly tested.