Driverless cars head to the streets of Greenwich, Milton Keynes, Coventry and Bristol

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Four cities have been chosen by Innovate UK to run formal trials to see how driverless cars could be integrated into everyday life across the country.

Cars that drive themselves would represent the most significant transformation in road travel since the introduction of the internal combustion engine and at Innovate UK, we want to help the UK to lead the world in making that happen.

Four cities have been chosen by Innovate UK to run formal trials to see how driverless cars could be integrated into everyday life across the country.

Following high quality applications to our £10m driverless cars competition, government has provided an additional £9m to back the four cities (two working together in one project) which have now been given the green light to start their exciting and innovative work from January 2015.

The chosen cities are:

  • Greenwich, South East London
  • Milton Keynes and Coventry (one project)
  • Bristol

The trials will see driverless car research taking place in the real-world and lead to a better understanding of how the technology needs to develop and how people interact with the vehicles. It will also help the public get used to seeing the vehicles on the streets. The trials will last between 18 and 36 months and start on 1 January 2015.

Funding for all three projects was confirmed today (Wednesday) by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne as part of the Autumn Statement.

Innovate UK’s ‘Introducing Driverless Cars to UK Roads’ competition will establish the UK as the global hub for the R&D and integration of driverless vehicles and associated technologies into society and to attract future investment.

Proposals are business-led but had to include a local authority partner and other businesses and research organisations. Business partners must incur at least 70% of the total eligible project costs.

More detail on each of the three projects:

  • The GATEway project is based in Greenwich, South East London, and will model how driverless cars could be implemented in London, and further afield. Led by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), testing will include automated electric shuttle vehicles, a demonstration of tele-operated driving and a simulated 3D model of the Greenwich peninsula. The project also aims to leave the legacy of a driverless vehicle test environment in Greenwich attracting international manufacturers and associated industries to the UK.
  • UK Autodrive will be based jointly in Milton Keynes and Coventry. The programme will involve the demonstration of road-going cars and lightweight self-driving pods designed for pedestrianised spaces, and will be delivered on behalf of the UK by the City of Milton Keynes working in association with the City of Coventry. Other partners in the programme include JLR, Tata, Ford, RDM, Thales (UK), AXA, Wragge-Lawrence-Graham, Oxford University, Cambridge University, the Open University, and the new Transport Systems Catapult. Consulting group Arup has devised the programme and will provide programme management and technical co-ordination skills.
  • The VENTURER consortium have joined forces to trial autonomous vehicles in Bristol, investigating the legal and insurance aspects of driverless cars and exploring how the public react to such vehicles. This programme aims to deepen understanding of the impact on road users and wider society and open up new opportunities for our economy and society. Bristol is surrounded by challenging terrain which will provide important data that can be used to successfully introduce driverless cars in cities and towns across the UK to reduce congestion, improve air quality and use roads more efficiently and safely.

Nick Jones, lead technologist at Innovate UK, said: “Cars that drive themselves would represent the most significant transformation in road travel since the introduction of the internal combustion engine and at Innovate UK, we want to help the UK to lead the world in making that happen.

“There are so many new and exciting technologies that can come together to make driverless cars a reality, but it’s vital that trials are carried out safely, that the public have confidence in that technology and we learn everything we can through the trials so that legal, regulation and protection issues don’t get in the way in the future.”

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Nick Evans
Innovate UK
+44 7770678437
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