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UK to let driverless cars loose on roads by January


Anxious to start... not driving in the UK? Though late to the party, the government has announced that driverless cars will hit the streets in three UK cities starting in January 2015. The Department of Transport also launched a £10 million ($17 million) fund to spur research and reach the deadline. Once the three cities are selected for trials, two different types of self-driving vehicles will be tested: fully autonomous cars with no driver, and self-driving models that can relinquish control to a human pilot. All of that will be laid out in new road laws now being formulated to accommodate such vehicles.

US states followed a similar trajectory back in 2011 by first passing new road laws, then approving self-driving vehicles for road use, as long as they were accompanied by a human driver. There are now quite a few companies in the self-driving game, which only kicked off in earnest once Google jumped in. New projects have launched from Volvo, Audi and Google (again). A UK company called MIRA specializing in such vehicles told Sky News that though it also had driverless tech, "we lag behind actually getting (it) into some real field trials." Now, the science minister said, "Britain is brilliantly placed to lead the world in driverless technology."

[Image credit: AP/Michael Sohn]

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