The Government has announced a raft of new measures to allow driverless cars to be tested on UK roads for the first time from 2015.
Vince Cable has launched a review to look at current road regulations to establish how the UK can ensure that the cars can be tested thoroughly. Up until now they have only been able to be tested on private roads.
Two areas of driverless car tech will be covered in the reviews: those with a qualified driver who can take control of the driverless car and fully autonomous vehicles with no driver present.
UK cities can also now bid for a share of a £10 million competition to host the driveless car trials. Up to three cities will be selected to begin trials from January 2015, with each project expected to last between 18 and 36 months.
Vince Cable said: "Today’s announcement will see driverless cars take to our streets in less than six months, putting us at the forefront of this transformational technology and opening up new opportunities for our economy and society."
The Department of Transport had previously promised to allow self-driving cars on the roads by 2013. However, UK engineers, including a group from Oxford that created an autonomous Nissan Leaf, have so far been confined to testing on private roads.
At the same time other countries have been trialling the vehicles on normal roads, including Google's adapted Lexus RX 450h that has been put through its paces on Californian roads.
The British public may still need some convincing, however. According to research from Churchill car insurance, 56 per cent of UK adults wouldn't purchase a driverless car, while one in four believe that they won't be safe.
The biggest fear for the majority of people (60 per cent) is a malfunction of some kind. This was followed by 56 per cent concerned about a lack of human control and a third worried about cyber security issues.
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