UK experiences trial of self-driving cars for 1st time

For the first time since the self-driving cars started making waves, one of such cars has been tested on the streets of UK.

In the trial, LUTZ Pathfinder two-seater was seen traveling 1.25 miles through the areas that are pedestrian in Milton Keynes at a speed of 15mph as it avoided cyclists and walkers as it drove by. Also, there was a driver behind the wheels ready to take over should there be need to.

Making use of Buckinghamshire virtual maps for navigation, the cars manufactured by TSC- Transport Systems Catapult was navigating around business district and train station.

Such self-driving cars have been tested on American roads with the ones tested in the UK having to have a human being operate it manually.

The government of Britain is keen on ensuring that they are at the forefront when it comes to self-driving cars even though they have no plans of allowing such cars to be used in nothing less than 10 years in the UK.

There were changes made by ministers in the early part of the year concerning the Highway Code and motor insurance rules. With that, self-driving cars can use the roads freely by the year 2024.

According to Greg Clark, business secretary, the autonomous vehicles in the global perspective offer big opportunities for the technology and automotive firms. Clark added that the research that powered the software and technology will go beyond just catering to autonomous cars.

There is a computer located on board of the cars that searches its immediate environment by the use of lidar and cameras so as to avoid cases of accidents.

With the trial on the road, it marks the end of TSC’s development for the past 18 months that was funded by private sector and public money investment for a non-profit research.

Another reason for the test was to find out how the public reacts to the new technology so as to start work on the regulations that will guide such vehicles.

Programme director of TSC, Neil Fulton said that with the demonstration, driverless cars will be welcomed in Britain.

Fulton added that the successful demonstrations that took place in Milton Keynes will make way for small businesses and universities in the UK to enter into further research.

A company that goes by the name Oxbotica that is made of up mathematicians, scientists, and engineers coming from Oxford Robotics Institute developed the software used for the vehicle.

In the US where the technology has gone farther than in the UK, self-driving cars have received mixed reactions.

Uber has gone ahead of the pack with its deployment of Ford Fusion in Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh and does not need drivers to man the vehicles. The company has also gone into partnership with Volvo to manufacture self-driving cars.

However, there was an outcry from Tesla about the dangers of driverless cars especially after one of its cars making use of autopilot was involved in a ghastly accident.

Google’s self-driving vehicle smashed with an oncoming vehicle last month as the latter was said to run through red light.