Safety pledge on roads used to test driver­less ve­hi­cles

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Tom Dare Coun­cil Cor­re­spon­dent

THE public are be­ing as­sured about the safety of driver­less ve­hi­cles af­ter it was an­nounced that 50 miles of roads across the re­gion will be used for test­ing the new tech­nol­ogy.

Mayor Andy Street and sev­eral in­dus­try ex­perts said safety was at the fore­front of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary plans which could make the area a world leader for Con­nected and Au­ton­o­mous Ve­hi­cle (CAV) tech­nol­ogy.

It was this week an­nounced that a con­sor­tium of or­gan­i­sa­tions from both the public and pri­vate sec­tors will be de­vel­op­ing roads across Birm­ing­ham and Coven­try for the project.

It will be the largest, most di­verse test­ing en­vi­ron­ment in the UK.

It will also fea­ture the de­ploy­ment of new road­side in­fra­struc­ture in­clud­ing smart ve­hi­cle mon­i­tor­ing, data an­a­lyt­ics and 5G ready wire­less.

How­ever, some peo­ple re­main un­con­vinced. In March this year an Ari­zo­nan woman be­came the first pedes­trian to be killed af­ter be­ing struck by a driver­less car, while the pas­sen­ger in an­other model died just a few days later in Cal­i­for­nia when his car crashed into a bar­rier.

But Merid­ian Mo­bil­ity chief Dr Daniel Ruiz, whose com­pany is re­spon­si­ble for putting to­gether the whole of the UK’s of­fer­ing to the world in re­la­tion to devel­op­ment of CAVs, high­lighted the UK’s ex­cel­lent safety poli­cies as the main rea­son why the public shouldn’t be con­cerned about the tech­nol­ogy.

“The UK has been rated num­ber one in the world for the pol­icy be­hind the devel­op­ment of all these tech­nolo­gies. And that pol­icy means safety is at the fore­front of what we’re do­ing,” he said.

“We are recog­nised as be­ing num­ber one in pol­icy and num­ber two in devel­op­ment in this area. This means that lots of com­pa­nies are go­ing to come to the UK which is ob­vi­ously very ben­e­fi­cial to in­dus­try and the econ­omy in the West Mid­lands.”

This was a point echoed by Pro­fes­sor Paul Jen­nings, whose or­gan­i­sa­tion WMG is head­ing up the project. “New mo­bil­ity tech­nol­ogy and ser­vices will lead to safer, greener and more ef­fi­cient trans­porta­tion for both peo­ple and goods,” he said.

“There has to be a lot of in­fra­struc­ture, and it’s very costly, but most im­por­tantly of all it needs to be safe.

“But peo­ple’s cars now are al­ready start­ing to gain a level of autonomy. Peo­ple are aware of things like as­sisted brak­ing, self park­ing, lane ad­just­ment.

“These are au­ton­o­mous features that have al­ready been in­tro­duced to ve­hi­cles. So there is a slow tran­si­tion to­ward the long term goal of a driver­less fu­ture.”

Mayor Andy Street said cars were al­ready be­ing Coven­try’s roads.

“It is true that on the streets of Coven­try at the mo­ment there are au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles be­ing tested,” he said.

“Now at the mo­ment, just to re­as­sure peo­ple for safety, all of those ve­hi­cles have to have a co-driver in them, in case they need to intervene in any way. But to be ab­so­lutely clear, it is hap­pen­ing on the streets of Coven­try al­ready.” driver­less tested on

> The re­gion will be the largest test-bed for driver­less cars

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