The Strategist

Unmanned Vehicles Are Going to the UK

03/14/2016 - 14:38

This week, the UK government officially announced that unmanned vehicles will be allowed to be tested on public roads. The authorities believe that such cars would not only significantly reduce accidents on the roads but also stimulate innovation being implemented by many automakers. For example, late last week, General Motors has spent $ 1 billion to buy a California startup that develops an autonomous control system for vehicles.

By Norbert Aepli, Switzerland, CC BY 3.0, via
By Norbert Aepli, Switzerland, CC BY 3.0, via
UK authorities officially let out unmanned vehicles on public roads. Finance Minister George Osborne will announce it on Wednesday during the presentation of the budget for 2016. In a statement prior to the submission of the budget, Mr. Osborne said: "Now, when the world economy is experiencing a period of uncertainty, Britain must make bold decisions when it comes to new technologies and infrastructure. Unmanned vehicles may radically change the whole transport sector - the importance of these changes can be compared with invention of the internal combustion engine."

Tests on the UK road can begin as early as this year, first in some regional roads with moderate traffic - in the vicinity of the cities of Bristol, Greenwich and Coventry. If test results are positive, tests of these machines will be permitted on larger highways in 2017. Full-fledged use of unmanned vehicles on British roads is expected to begin in 2020. Currently, tests of unmanned machines have already been carried on the US, German and Swiss roads. Mr. Osborne also said that the road London - Dover will soon get a special system worth £ 15 million. The mechanism will allow unmanned vehicles to communicate over wireless communications with infrastructure and other unmanned vehicles. UK Transport Minister Patrick McLaughlin believes that "unmanned vehicles have potential to significantly change the very system of movement on the roads making it more comfortable and safe." "Work in this direction is the further evidence that the UK is playing a leading role in the development of new technologies, promoting their social and economic development by seeking new opportunities for investment," - he said.

Investments in the industry of unmanned vehicles continue to grow every year. Google annually spends about $ 30 million on the development of autonomous driving technology. In November last year, Toyota announced an investment program of $ 1 billion, under which the company will develop new technologies of robotics and autonomous control of vehicles. Above that, General Motors acquired for $ 1 billion California company Cruise Automation at the end of last week. The company develops software for autonomous driving systems and has already raised tens of millions of dollars from venture capital investors. This transaction has allowed many experts to conclude that GM intends to give serious attention to unmanned vehicles amid rising competition in this field. In addition to those already mentioned Google and Toyota, automakers such as Daimler, Volkswagen, Audi, Ford and others have already announced launching their own development.