Driverless cars set to be tested in four English cities

Image source, Catapault
Image caption,
Milton Keynes is set to begin tests of the Lutz self-driving pods next year

The four English locations picked to test driverless cars have been named.

Greenwich, in south-east London, and Bristol will each host a project of their own, while Coventry and Milton Keynes will share a third.

The decision was announced by the quango Innovate UK, after George Osborne's Autumn Statement.

The chancellor also announced an additional £9m in funding for the work, adding to the £10m that had been announced in July.

The businesses involved will add further funds.

Bristol will host the Venturer consortium, which aims to investigate whether driverless cars can reduce congestion and make roads safer.

Its members include the insurance group Axa, and much of its focus will be on the public's reaction to the tech as well as the legal and insurance implications of its introduction.

Greenwich is set to run the Gateway scheme. This will be led by the Transport Research Laboratory consultancy and also involves General Motors, and the AA and RAC motoring associations. It plans to carry out tests of automated passenger shuttle vehicles as well as autonomous valet parking for adapted cars.

In addition, a self-drive car simulator will make use of a photorealistic 3D model of the area to study how people react to sharing the driving of a vehicle with its computer.

Image source, Gateway
Image caption,
Gateway will test self-drive passenger shuttle vehicles in Greenwich

"The combination of TRL's independent expertise; robust, reliable testing protocols and driving simulation facilities alongside the diverse and high calibre qualities of our consortium means we can safely demonstrate automated vehicles to build acceptance and trust in this revolutionary technology," said the firm's chief executive Rob Wallis.

Milton Keynes and Coventry will host the UK Autodrive programme.

This involves Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and the engineering consultancy Arup among others, and will test both self-drive cars on the road as well as self-driving pods designed for pedestrianised areas.

Part of this group's work will be to develop the technologies that will need to be built into roads and the surrounding infrastructure to aid vehicle navigation.

"Our plan with the practical demonstration phases is to start testing with single vehicles on closed roads, and to build up to a point where all road users, as well as legislators, the police and insurance companies, are confident about how driverless pods and fully and partially autonomous cars can operate safely on UK roads," said Tim Armitage from Arup.

The tests will last from between 18 to 36 months and begin on 1 January.

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