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Driverless cars coming to UK roads this year

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The Oxford RobotCar UK Project
The Oxford RobotCar UK Project

The UK government has confirmed that driverless cars will be tested on British roads by the end of the year.

Public roads will be graced with the presence of driverless cars before the end of 2013 the UK government has revealed.

As revealed in a report entitled “Action for Roads: A Network for the 21st Century” published by the Department of Transport, driverless cars will be tested on public roads in UK, having only previously been driven on private land until now.

The driverless cars are guided by cameras and sensors that could potentially make them safer than human-controlled vehicles.

“They maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front at a set speed and without deviating from their lane – all without the driver’s input,” said the Department for Transport report.

A back-up driver will be present in the computer-controlled vehicles when they are tested on public roads, just in case of any emergencies or accidents.

The Department of Transport report outlines a £28 billion investment in British roads that will attempt to reduce congestion. The driverless cars are seen to be a part of this mission.

Within the reports, the driverless cars are said to be capable of driving without any human input “using knowledge of the environment in which they are driving.”

The cars are currently being tested by a team of Oxford University researchers around the Oxford Science Park. The vehicle is an adapted Nissan Leaf that uses small cameras and lasers to memorise the journeys it makes, such as regular runs to the supermarket, school or workplace.

“It’s a great area to be working in because it’s IT and computers and that’s what changes things,” said Professor Paul Newman, who heads the Oxford University team. “The British government sees that engineering as important.”

Google has also been developing its own driverless cars, using a converted Toyota Pruis. These prototypes have already been driving around on public roads and have covered over 300,000 miles so far.

Next, read our pick of the best cameras of 2013.

Via:
BBC

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