For the first time in the United Kingdom, a driverless car was tested in a public setting in Milton Keynes. The car did not technically get on the road; it merely did a 1 km loop on the pavements around the railway station. These two-seater electric vehicles could get their first passengers next year, when 40 such “pods” are expected to be available for public use.
Developed by Oxford University’s Oxford Robotics Institute and integrated by Oxford University spinoff company Oxbotica, the software under the hood of these pods is called Selenium. It uses a combination of LIDAR and cameras to make its way through the foot traffic and safety navigate the pavement.
The British government is keen on getting driverless cars on UK roads, and is currently reviewing insurance and road regulations so autonomous vehicles can start operating on its roads by 2020.
Two other such projects are in the offing in London and Bristol, and public trials are expected to be carried out soon.
The government’s push towards autonomous technology is encouraging, considering the fact that there have been recently reported car crashes involving Tesla’s Autopilot system. If they’re successful in putting though legislation that will allow driverless cars to go on the roads by 2020, other European countries are sure to follow.
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