Britain seeks a leading position in the ongoing competition for introducing the first autonomous vehicles on the roads, after it recently unveiled four different autonomous test programs in four different cities.
The rise of autonomous cars is believed by many as the single most important step in automotive technology since the invention of the internal combustion engine and the emergence of motorized vehicles. Naturally, numerous countries seek a forefront position in a market that could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars in the years to come. The recent British projects have been backed by almost $30 million in government funding and have set out to verify four different types of driverless cars including a pod-like microcar and one that resembles an oversize golf cart. The projects are “an important step. The trials present a fantastic opportunity for this country to take a lead internationally in the development of this new technology,” said British Transport Minister Claire Perry.
Self-driving technology – whether partially or fully automated – has risen in importance among automotive planners, suppliers, safety proponents and even technology companies. The general factors in the favor of autonomous driving are the expected traffic congestion reductions, improvements in fuel economy and the significant reduction of traffic accidents that result in injuries or deaths. According to British business secretary Vince Cable, numerous recent studies have also forecasted that by 2035 the majority of vehicles worldwide will carry at least one form of autonomous capability – with the revenue generated by the industry reaching almost 900 billion pounds – or $1.4 trillion.