Following a detailed regulatory review the Government confirmed that there are no legal barriers to the testing of automated vehicles on public roads. It has launched the first official UK trials of driverless cars.
So are driverless cars something we will see in the near future?
There are certainly many developments happening from a variety of manufacturers. A self-driving shuttle bus service is to be deployed in New York City this year and a driverless lorry has been let loose on Swedish roads.
US chipmaker Nvidia is teaming up with Volvo to develop artificial intelligence for self-driving trucks. Volvo will be making use of the Drive AI platform for vehicles developed by Nvidia, put together with its vehicles. The partnership is expected to last several years and will aim to develop a system enabling autonomous trucks to drive safely on motorways and roads alongside existing traffic.
Elon Musk, the chief executive of electric car company Tesla, has said he expects the firm to have self-driving “robotaxis” on the road by 2020. Mr Musk said he expected the scheme to operate on a model similar to that of Uber or Airbnb.
Will driverless cars make the roads less congested?
Cambridge University researchers produced a model of automated vehicles which could communicate with each other. They say it shows driverless cars working together could improve traffic flow by at least 35%. Cambridge University researchers programmed 16 miniature cars to drive on a two-lane track to see how they fared when one of them stopped. In the study traffic queues formed, but when the cars’ communication system was turned on, they slowed down to allow each other to pass the stationary car.