Three autonomous vehicle projects are set to receive backing from a share of a £25 million government fund, as the UK edges closer to seeing self-driving cars on its roads. The new cars are set to'revolutionise' the way Brits travel across the country and could even help to improve transport services for those who struggle to access public transport. All of the new projects will include social behavioural research in order to understand how driverless technology can be seamlessly integrated into society. The findings will then be applied to the development for future autonomous service models. Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark is set to announce the public trials in Oxford, after trying a self-driving vehicle firsthand, which is being tested around the city.
The NEXT Future Transportation module is a far cry from the sleek visions of self-driving cars designed by Tesla or Mercedes. With an average cruising speed of 20 kilometers per hour, the electric pods are unlikely to set pulses racing. But perhaps the most crucial distinction is that this self-driving vehicle is passenger ready. Following trials in 2018, several NEXT units are expected to be in action at the Expo 2020 site in Dubai, providing short-distance rides for some of the estimated 25 million visitors attending the six-month world fair. The Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has set the demanding target of having 25% of journeys in the city to be made through driverless transport by 2030 -- going beyond the existing driverless metro and monorail systems.
Traffic accidents are a major unsolved problem worldwide. Yearly, it causes around 1.35 million deaths and 10 million people sustain nonfatal injuries9 in addition to having substantial negative economic and social effects. With approximately 90% of accidents being due to human errors, autonomous driving (AD) will play a vital role in saving human lives and substantial property damage. Moreover, it promises far greater mobility, energy saving, and less air pollution. Despite the recent advances to achieve such promising vision, enabling autonomous vehicles in complex environments is still decades away.6
The driver, who got the bus humming with the push of a button, stayed behind the wheel but was hands-off most of the time, keeping intervention to a minimum. The bus, sporting an array of sensors and cameras, was limited to a maximum speed of around 30 kph. The bus completed the circuit from Gunma University to Shibukawa Station in about an hour, twice a day for nine days, as part of a pilot program set up by the school, a local bus line, the Gunma Prefectural Government and NEC. The aim: to achieve the government's goal of getting driverless vehicles up and running on Japan's roads by the end of the year. The move underlines the fact that self-driving vehicles are no longer a vision for the distant future, but just around the corner.
Users of self-driving cars will be able to watch films on the motorway under planned changes to the Highway Code, although it will remain illegal to use mobile phones. The update, proposed by the Department for Transport (DfT), will allow those in the driver's seat to use a car's built-in screens to watch movies and TV programmes. The new rules also state that insurance companies will be financially liable, rather than individual motorists, for accidents in self-driving cars. However, those behind the wheel must be ready to resume control of the vehicle when they are prompted – such as when they approach motorway exits. These measures were described as an interim measure by the government to support the early deployment of self-driving vehicles.