Driverless cars, thing of the future? Think again

Business Secretary Vince Cable and Transport Minister Claire Perry have today kicked off the driverless car trials in the Royal Borough of Greenwich in front of the O2.

GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment project) is one of three projects chosen by the Government to trial driverless vehicles and UK consumers’ reactions to them.

Behind this project sits a consortium of organisations led by TRL (Transport Research Laboratory), which has been working on automated vehicles for more than 50 years. The venue for the project is a customer of O2 – the Royal Borough of Greenwich, and the trials are near the O2. RSA (Royal Sun Alliance) will be working to understand how automated vehicles might disrupt the motor insurance market and will support our risk mitigation strategy. Shell will also be contributing their expertise to the project but also learning how automated vehicles could change their existing business model. Finally, Telefónica will be bringing connectivity to the vehicles through M2M technology and help realise the Internet on wheels.

We have been  connecting cars for over 20 years now – but mainly for driver based fleet management.   However, we see the driverless car market as one where we can add more – such as safety through connectivity – whether connected sensors , navigation information, Apps and Accessories, Customer care, or appropriate guidance and control information. This demonstrator helps us to learn with key partners, offer the connectivity to the vehicles and help evolve the public policy in this Smart City space.

We are delighted to be a part of the GATEway project as it will be testing a number of important factors involved with using automated vehicles safely. Over the next two years the GATEway project will:

·         Demonstrate automated transport systems in a range of environments

·         Explore the legal and technical changes required to introduce automated vehicles

·         Explore the reactions of both pedestrians, drivers and other road users to automated vehicles

Ultimately this project will put the UK at the forefront of developing this type of transport technology and we are proud to be a part of it.

Dr Mike Short