The BBC reports that the British government has approved testing of driverless cars on public roads by the end of 2013. The green light came from the Department of Transport, which included the testing as part of a 28 billion pound investment to combat the notorious congestion on British roads.
The technology uses a system of sensors and cameras and has the capability to memorize regular journeys like the drive to work.
Potential benefits of driverless cars is rather easy to see – especially in areas of high congestion. As the Department of Transportation report states, driverless cars “maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front at a set speed and without deviating from their lane – all without the driver’s input.” This can potentially result in a smoother traffic flow and reduction in collisions.
Driverless cars will be operated and tested by researchers from the Oxford University – who have been working with Japanese automaker Nissan on the technology and have already tested a car on a private road. As a safety measure, a back-up driver will ride along during tests, who can take over in case of emergency.
Internet related service provider, Google, has previously led efforts in the private sector, with its fleet of prototypes of a converted Toyota Prius covering more than 300,000 miles on public roads.