Business Secretary Vince Cable and the UK Department for Transport have just announced a "fast track" initiative for driverless cars, saying that the autonomous vehicles will hit public roads in about six months.
As the BBC reports, The Department for Transport is a little late on its own projections. The technology was supposed to hit roads in 2013, but up until now the cars have just been legal for tests on private roads.
"The excellence of our scientists and engineers has established the UK as a pioneer in the development of driverless vehicles through pilot projects. Today’s announcement will see driverless cars take to our streets in less than 6 months, putting us at the forefront of this transformational technology and opening up new opportunities for our economy and society, said Cable.
The Department is allowing this through a pilot program, in which cities in the UK can bid for a piece of a £10 million pool to host the driverless cars. In January of 2015, the Department will select up to three cities for the trials. Each trials will go for a year and a half to three years.
"Driverless cars have huge potential to transform the UK’s transport network – they could improve safety, reduce congestion and lower emissions, particularly CO2. We are determined to ensure driverless cars can fulfil this potential which is why we are actively reviewing regulatory obstacles to create the right framework for trialling these vehicles on British roads," said Transport Minister Claire Perry.
Another part of this "fast track" initiative is the launch of a new review "to look at current road regulations to establish how the UK can remain at the forefront of driverless car technology and ensure there is an appropriate regime for testing driverless cars in the UK."
Despite some reservations from law enforcement officials, lawmakers, and the general population, driverless cars are pushing forward in the States as well. The most notable push is from Google, whose cars have logged over 700,000 total miles. Some states have already put the wheels in motion on updating current regulations to facilitate autonomous vehicles.
Image via Google