With the steering wheel turning on its own and radar and camera technology guiding it, a driverless car took to Britain’s streets for the first time on Tuesday, as part of trials aimed at getting autonomous vehicles onto the roads by 2020.
The electric-powered pod – like a small two-seater car – navigated its way around a pedestrianised area in the southern English town of Milton Keynes at 5 miles (8km) per hour, turning corners and stopping as pedestrians crossed its path.
The government is encouraging tech firms and carmakers to develop and test autonomous driving technology in Britain, aiming to build an industry to serve a worldwide market it says will be worth around 900 billion pounds by 2025.
Earlier this year, it launched a consultation on changes to insurance rules and motoring regulations to prepare for driverless cars by the turn of the decade, and said vehicles would be tested on motorways from next year.
The pod, heavily adapted from a compact Renault car, was developed by Oxford University spin-out Oxbotica, with organisers hoping the trials will show how the vehicle interacts with road-users and introduce it to the public.
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Time For Truth: (Reuters) – Driverless car tested on UK streets for the first time