A consortium of British companies has unveiled a plan to test driverless cars on UK roads and motorways in 2019. The Driven group also plans to try out a fleet of autonomous vehicles between London and Oxford. The cars will communicate with each other about any hazards and should operate with almost full autonomy - but will have a human on board as well. Previous tests of driverless vehicles in the UK have mainly taken place at slow speeds and not on public roads. The Driven consortium is led by Oxbotica, which makes software for driverless vehicles.
Driverless taxis could hit the streets in a matter of years after Lyft – a rival to private car-hailing app Uber – announced plans to test them on US roads. Detroit-based automotive firm General Motors and Lyft will road-test a fleet of autonomous Chevrolet Bolt electric taxis within a year, as the driverless car revolution gathers pace. The plan, unveiled just a few months after Uber announced a similar move, is expected to involve customers testing the new service in a US city that has yet to be chosen. Customers who use the app are expected to be offered a choice of whether they want to be part of the trials or would prefer a human driver. Lyft's prototype app for the service is understood to include options that allow the passenger to order their robot chauffeur to tell them when they have reached their destination.
The New South Wales government has welcomed the first passengers on its Driverless Smart Shuttle at Sydney Olympic Park, with the service set to officially start next week, marking stage two of the state's driverless trial. Through its Smart Innovation Centre -- a hub for the "collaborative" research and development of safe and efficient emerging transport technology -- the NSW government in August last year partnered with HMI Technologies, NRMA, Telstra, IAG, and the Sydney Olympic Park Authority to conduct a two-year trial of the shuttle. Legislation was passed alongside the formation of the hub to approve trials of automated vehicles. The hub has since added the University of Technology Sydney, to enable the NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight. The legislation allows government to partner with industry, researchers, and universities to be a testing ground for automated vehicles, with the trial touted as bringing driverless cars a step closer to reality in Australia.
Car makers, technology companies and governments now have a set of official guidelines to instruct trials of driverless vehicles in Australia. Published by the National Transport Commission and AustRoads, the guidelines [pdf] set out how autonomous vehicles can be tested on public roads in the country, and how triallists can seek exemption from permits and requirements such as Australian design rules (ADR) ahead of testing. Organisations that wish to trial autonomous vehicles must clearly set out the trial location and provide a high-level description of the technology used, the guidelines state. A traffic management plan that takes into account vehicle density, pedestrians, signage, and route complexity will also need to be provided. A comprehensive insurance policy is similarly a must.