2019: The rise of the self-driving car

16 October


Many companies are already testing and developing autonomous technology, and with more and more expanding their reach, by 2019 your daily commute could see you sitting next to a self-driving vehicle and its reclining passengers.

With the government wanting the UK to be at the forefront of self-driving car technology, it believes that the industry in the UK will be worth over £28 billion in the next 17 years. Part of this plan involves having driverless cars on the road, primarily being tested, by 2019.

There have been many self-driving trials around the London Borough as part of the GATEway scheme. It's planned there'll be four test trials of different types of autonomous vehicles. The most recent test has been using University of Oxford spinoff Oxbotica technology for an autonomous 'milk float' to deliver shopping to those living in a Woolwich estate. Other tests are also happening, from autonomous delivery systems trialled in Greenwich by Ocado and Oxbotica, the latter of whom is working with other companies under the consortium DRIVEN to run large-scale driving demonstrations on the UK motorways between Oxford and London in 2019.

Meanwhile Jaguar Land Rover is testing a level 4 (fully autonomous but with a driver present) Range Rover Sport that can, in theory, handle itself in all situations. The vehicle is being tested near Nuneaton and can, apparently, navigate roundabouts and complex junctions. The Nissan Leaf, an autonomous car guided by lazers, radars and cameras, was tested around East London’s Beckton also, but not everything went smoothly, and the driver had to grab the steering wheel and break heavily at a roundabout.

With so much invested and so many great minds focussed on the task of making autonomous vehicles a reality, 2019 seems like an achievable goal. Maybe we’ll even see 2018 as the year when these vehicles are tested and 2019 the first year we share the roads with driverless vehicles as standard.

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