The U.K. government has given its approval to driverless cars following a six-month review of the country’s suitability for self-driving technology. But before driverless cars hit the roads, Brits will first see the technology making its debut in driverless pods and shuttles.
“Driverless cars are the future,” said Transport Minister Claire Perry. “I want Britain to be at the forefront of this exciting new development, to embrace a technology that could transform our roads and open up a brand new route for global investment.”
Enabling testing on public roads makes the U.K. a prime location for the development of self-driving vehicles. And the government isn’t just giving it a thumbs-up; it also plans to provide £19 million (approx. $29.14 million) in funding for driverless car trials.
Initially, the shuttle trials will be limited in their numbers, and they’ll mostly take place in pedestrianized areas. They won’t be available for public use, and a licensed driver will be behind the wheel at all times.
“These are still early days but today is an important step,” Perry added. “The trials present a fantastic opportunity for this country to take a lead internationally in the development of this new technology.”
The government will now begin work on a new “code of practice” for driverless vehicles, which will provide the industry with guidelines they can use to trial cars in real-life scenarios. According to The Verge, this will be a non-legislative approach that will be “more flexible and less onerous” than the regulatory approach implemented in other countries, such as the U.S.
While this may be a small step for now, it will undoubtedly be huge for the future of Britain’s transportation system.