The demonstration of the autonomous electric vehicles is going to take place on the pavements of Milton Keynes. These tests will be the culmination of an 18-month research project which involved virtually mapping the town and updating regulations for driverless vehicles.
US technology giants including Google and Uber have demonstrated their own driverless vehicles on public roads, but this system was developed in the UK by the Oxford Robotics Institute and one of its spinout companies, Oxbotica.
The system uses cameras and LiDAR detection technology to navigate a small electric car around the streets.
Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “Today’s first public trials of driverless vehicles in our towns is a ground-breaking moment and further evidence that Britain is at the forefront of innovation.
“The global market for autonomous vehicles presents huge opportunities for our automotive and technology firms. And the research that underpins the technology and software will have applications way beyond autonomous vehicles.”
The Transport Systems Catapult, a not-for-profit research centre set up by the government which led the Milton Keynes trial, is developing an automated vehicle test and integration facility, which universities and start-ups will be able to use to develop driverless technologies.
Neil Fulton, programme director at the TSC, explained: “This public demonstration represents a major milestone for autonomous vehicles in the UK and the culmination of an extensive project involving UK companies and experts.
“Oxford University’s technology will go on to power automated vehicles around the world and the LUTZ Pathfinder project will now feed into a much wider programme of autonomous trials across the UK.”