Will Driverless Cars Be Racing at Silverstone?

posted on Feb 04 2016 by Roy Shipston

Will Driverless Cars Be Racing at Silverstone?

When the technology for self-drive cars hits top gear in a few years’ time we could all have our own personal “virtual chauffeur”.

The UK government is revving-up R&D into the future of the motor business with a multi-million pound boost to the development of autonomous cars. But how far will it go? Will we be wending our way to Silverstone in our robot-controlled vehicles to watch driverless Ferraris, Mercs and Williams screeching round the F1 circuit?

Eight projects are to receive 20% of the government’s £100m Intelligent Mobility Fund to research and develop the communication systems and infrastructure the newest form of transport is going to need.

The projects include about 40 miles of road being equipped with “talking car technology” and will see the revolutionary vehicles being tested in a city centre.

Britain aims to be one of the global centres for the development of self-drive vehicles. As in the US, driverless cars must have a human in charge under the Vienna Convention. But the UK has not ratified that ruling, making this country one of the hot-spots for developing the transport of the future.

Heathrow Driverless Cars

It was announced last week that seven autonomous pods used to transfer passengers at Heathrow airport on tracks will be adapted to run on the road. Self-drive car tests are already taking place in Bristol, Coventry, Greenwich in London, and Milton Keynes. The airport pods should be tackling Greenwich in July.

The 40 miles of roads being equipped with “talking-car tech” will feature urban routes through to motorways. The development of driverless shuttles will have a special target of improving accessibility for the disabled and visually-impaired.

Driverless Car

The other schemes involve the computer games sector working with transport modellers to come up with new computer-modelling techniques; the development of understanding user needs and expectations of autonomous vehicles; boosting the development of automated driving systems and reducing the cost of testing control systems; making a prototype system to monitor temperatures, tyre pressures and safety risks and, finally, developing a concept vehicle that can connect to all systems and analyse data.

But whether these developments eventually mean Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will be looking for new jobs remains to be seen.