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UK government inaugurates testing facility for autonomous vehicles

05 September 2019 IHS Markit Automotive Expert


The UK government has inaugurated Autonomous Village, a testing facility for self-driving cars in Bedfordshire, and has launched a new safety regime, CAV Pass. Autonomous Village is a 40-mile facility for testing self-driving cars in Bedfordshire (United Kingdom), reports The Telegraph. The new facility is one of six sites across the country co-ordinated by automated vehicle company Zenzic and has received a GBP6.9-million (USD8.5-million) grant from the UK government. This facility will be helpful for companies to test software, sensors, data collection, and security systems for self-driving cars. On the inauguration of the facility, the government launched a new safety regime, CAV Pass, to ensure self-driving vehicles are subject to 'digital MOTs', testing their cyber-security and artificial intelligence systems. UK Future of Transport Minister George Freeman said, "Self-driving vehicles can offer significant rewards for the UK's economy, road safety and accessibility. We are determined to lead in the testing and development of safe autonomous transport. This is new terrain, and with our national expertise the UK is well-placed to blaze the trail globally by developing a global benchmark for assuring the safety and security of this exciting technology."

Significance: The government grant of GBP6.9 million to set up the facility comes from a GBP51-million government fund aimed at developing testing facilities for driverless vehicles across the country. A day before the facility's inauguration, Zenzic launched the UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap (CAM) to 2030, which the company claims as world's first self-driving roadmap. The roadmap depicts connections, cross-sector dependencies, and associations required to deploy autonomous vehicles (AVs) on public roads in the UK by 2030. In February, the UK government announced that it is working to support advanced trials of AVs, after they have passed rigorous safety assessments, and has updated its code of practice to add updates on automated vehicle trialling . The UK government plans to be the leader in the field of self-driving vehicles and expects to launch the first fully driverless cars on public roads by 2021. This was bolstered by the statement of former chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond to the BBC that the objective is to have "fully driverless cars" without a safety attendant on board by 2021. The government has also funded Oxbotica to support a GBP13-million project that will program fleets of AVs to run between London and Oxford.

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