The notion of driverless cars once seemed something out of fiction, but it is increasingly becoming a reality. Until now, such cars in UK were being tested on private property. Now, the UK government has stated that these driverless cars can be tested on roads by the end of 2013.
Typically, such cars are equipped with a whole lot of sensors, cameras and other equipment which lets the car gauge the position of different objects and tweak its controls accordingly. However, to ensure maximum safety, these cars will also carry drivers which will serve as back-up control, shall something go wrong.
The measure will be the part of a huge plan by the Department of Transport, meant to reduce congestion on the roads in UK. Initially, the driverless cars will be tested on rural and suburban roads where traffic is relatively less, so as to discern their viability before they are allowed on more congested roads.
The team of Oxford University researchers who have been working on self-driving cars will be charged with testing them on actual roads. According to Professor Paul Newman, who is heading the Oxford University team on the project, “It’s a great area to be working in because it’s IT and computers and that’s what changes things. The British government sees that engineering is important.”
Newman also acknowledged that Google is presently leading the competition on self-driving cars but that “they’re not the only game in town.”