Self driving cars will be on the British roads in January 2015

A lot of testing needs to be done before we can see self driving cars on the public roads. Aside from actually putting autonomous cars to the test, the government needs to create a legislation that will allow them on the road.

It is now Britain’s turn. Starting this month, autonomous vehicles will be walking around 4 different cities. If you happen to be in the area, you might have the chance to see the cars.

4 cities were selected for the UK trial

On the government ( website, a press release was posted at the end of July 2014, in which they announced an open competition for the driverless car trials. The government wanted to receive proposals as to what are the best locations for this project.

Though they stated in the press release that they would pick up to 3 cities, in the end they picked 4. The cities are: Bristol, Greenwich, Milton Keynes and Coventry. The trials will last between 18 and 36 months.

In July, it was announced that the cities will receive £10 million. As it turns out, “The chancellor also announced an additional £9m in funding for the work”, according to an article on BBC. This amount of money will be divided between them. Further funds will be added to this crazy amount of money, as the project starts developing.

What’s interesting is that in each city a different car will be tested, different functions will be evaluated, depending on the city’s characteristics.

In Milton Keynes and Coventry, the testing will focus on making the car efficient on pedestrian roads. Also, the city will receive 100 autonomous vehicles until 2017. Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover and Tata are some of the car manufacturers that will run tests in this area.

In Greenwich, the automated shuttles and parking will be tested. Aside from the valet parking system, a controlled system will be able to see how a car is doing when it runs into a difficult situation. Also, a driverless electric bus with 10 seats will be tested here, but not on the public roads.

In Bristol, the project will focus on analyzing whether self driving cars can reduce traffic congestion. It will also investigate aspects regarding road laws, and insurance policies. These last particular aspects will require a lot of attention.

Testing, testing

Allowing self driving cars on the public roads is a big step towards making driverless vehicles a dream come true.

There will be two types of testing. One will allow fully autonomous cars, that don’t require a driver. The other type of test will have a driver, that will be able to take control of the car at any time, if needed.

What do self driving cars mean for Britain

Transport Minister Claire Perry says that autonomous vehicles “could improve safety, reduce congestion and lower emissions, particularly CO2”.

If autonomous cars do succeed in Britain, this would push the British government into spending $80 billion in order to link England and Leeds. This huge amount of money could be used to build a high-speed rail system.

This project has a name as well. It’s called High-Speed 2. Why the number 2? Because “HS1 is a link from London to the Channel Tunnel on the South-east tip of England linking Paris and Brussels”, according to this article on Forbes.

The HS2 project is still in the planning stage, and it won’t be ready until 2030.

Let’s imagine for a second what the future would look like in 2030. People will be choosing a driverless car instead of the train to go home from work. The only thing they’ll have to do is tell the car where they want to go, sit back, watch a movie, or even sleep until they arrive at their destination.

The great advantage of self driving cars is that they will be able to come and get us from home, especially if they would partner up with a car service like Uber. People will choose the means of transportation that makes them entertained, even if it would take them longer to get where they want.

Will you be roaming around Britain this year? Let me know if you happen to see self driving cars on the public roads. Maybe even take a picture.

Are you looking forward to seeing more driverless cars on the public roads? 

Philipp Kandal