Self-driving car trialled in public space

A self-driving vehicle has been tested in public for the first time in the UK.

The trial in Milton Keynes took place in pedestrian areas around the city’s train station and business district.

The autonomy software running the vehicle was developed by Oxford University’s Oxford Robotics Institute. It uses data from cameras and lidar, a type of radar, to navigate its way around the environment.

The demonstration was coordinated by the Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) and marked the conclusion of its LUTZ Pathfinder Project, which has been developing the technology for the past 18 months.

“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,” commented Neil Fulton, programme director at the TSC. “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. Driverless vehicles are coming to Britain and what we have demonstrated today is a huge step on that journey.”

The first public trial of driverless vehicles was described by Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark as “a ground-breaking moment”.

He added: “The global market for autonomous vehicles present 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 TSC has started building an automated vehicle test and integration facility, where it can work with other UK universities and SMEs on new self-driving technology.

In the future, the organisation expects vehicles like the one demonstrated in Milton Keynes to be used for local transportation in urban areas.

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