Last week, using four different prototypes of autonomous vehicles, Britain began official testing of driverless cars in cities across the region. These trials were aimed at advancing and integrating the developing technology, while also providing information for a planned rules review to help accommodate an impending transition.
Among the cars used during Wednesday’s testing were a large golf cart-like shuttle and a two-seater pod car. As seen in the video below, different high-level officials and journalists tested out the vehicles, taking short rides around London’s public square outside of the O2 Arena.
Britain has long expressed interest in leading the autonomous revolution, stating that the next step in their plan is to publish guidelines for companies to test vehicles in “real-life scenarios” (highways, public roads, etc.) by this summer.
To help expedite the process, the British government has even agreed to spend $29 million to help fund four different trial centers around the region. However, the project is “still in the early days,” says Transport Minister Claire Perry, adding that fully driverless cars are unlikely to be used on their roads until 2030.
In comparison with the United States, Britain is very much behind. The United States has long approved public testing for autonomous cars, and a number of American companies– including Google and Tesla– are currently leading a surge in the technology.
In fact, just last September, Tesla CEO Elon Musk even expressed hopes of having autonomous cars ready within 5 years.
That’s not good news for Britain, who wants to become a world leader in autonomous technology. But at the same time, it shouldn’t be surprising, either. We’ve been beating their butt as a world leader and hot spot for ideological innovation since 1776.