Ford and its former British subsidiary Jaguar Land Rover have teamed up once more in the United Kingdom, in a consortium that also includes the country’s government, in a bid to prototype driverless cars as an extension of the public transport systems.
The UK Autodrive Consortium will test the plan with 40 self-driving transport “pods”, unleashed on the streets of Milton Keynes, about 60 miles (100km) north of London. The program will span six months and begin late in 2017, according to the project’s leader, Tim Armitage. Ford’s job is to deliver a concept car that has built in vehicle-to-vehicle communication capability that would benefit the enterprise, according to a spokesperson. The British government wants to take charge ahead of companies such as Google in a bid to secure at least in part a portion of the expanding market for autonomous transportation. “There’s some big wins,” comments Armitage. “But in order to reach those big wins, we need some new technology.” The trial will be part of a three-year investment effort that draws its funding from a 10 million-pound government grant and another, equal participation, from the private sector. It’s also running along two other similar UK programs in Bristol and the London borough of Greenwich.
The autonomous programs are also easier to implement in the UK because the country’s laws are more permissive when it comes to testing of self-driving prototype vehicles – the pods used in the new program could very well compete with the Google-designed ones that also seek to complement or partially replace public transport systems.
Via Automotive News Europe