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Self-driving cars will be tested in London before Christmas

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The latest development in the race for self-driving cars sees a new initiative by the DRIVEN consortium to introduce Level 4 autonomous vehicles to the streets of London.

The DRIVEN consortium will be trialing self-driving cars in London before the end of the year
(Image via Oxbotica)

The project is currently mapping the streets of Hounslow, with plans to launch trials of their vehicles before Christmas.

The initiative is led by the autonomous vehicle software provider Oxbotica, who have a history of partnering with firms to bring self-driving cars to the City. The company has already run successful trials through Oxford town-centre, and hope to run a fleet of autonomous vehicles between Oxford and London in 2019.

“Being autonomous before Christmas will showcase the huge amount of work Oxbotica’s expert team of engineers has completed since the DRIVEN consortium was established,” said the firm’s CEO, Graeme Smith. 

“These trials further demonstrate to the wider UK public that connected and autonomous vehicles will play an important role in the future of transport. This milestone shows the advanced state of our capabilities and firmly keeps us on the road to providing the technology needed to revolutionise road travel.”

 The mapping process involves gathering data on everything from routes to street signs and road markings, allowing the vehicles to be as knowledgeable as local drivers. Areas must be mapped at different times and in different weather conditions to maximise understanding of the roads.

The project is further supported by AXA and Nominet, who will be testing data transfer between vehicles and developing a new cyber security model for self-driving cars.

The DRIVEN consortium is made of a collection of firms including Oxbotica, AXA XL, Nominet, Telefonica, TRL, RACE, Oxfordshire County Council, Westbourne Communications and Transport for London. It received an £8.6 million grant by Innovate UK and is working to achieve the goals set by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond last year, to have “genuine” driverless vehicles on the road by 2021.

In addition to DRIVEN’s London testing plans, other firms are looking at their own advances. The country’s first self-driving buses are due to be tested on a 14 mile route between Fife and Edinburgh.

And Jaguar Land Rover have partnered with cab firm Addison Lee to also trial their own autonomous tech through London, with the hope to have self-driving taxis throughout the Borough of Greenwich by 2021.

Whether success in these tests will result in true autonomous vehicles sharing our roads in the next few years remains to be seen, but if all goes well you could potentially see a couple of self-driving cars on the streets of London before the year is out.

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