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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Driverless buses debuts soon

Driverless buses on the way Claire Perry reveals one major company has already held talks about introducing computer-controlled buses in UK Driverless buses could soon be unveiled in Britain with one major operator already in discussions about introducing the first automated services, the Government has revealed. Claire Perry, the Transport Minister, said that operating buses without drivers could help companies provide “better and more frequent” services, particularly in rural areas. She also revealed that work is already under way to identify any problematic “regulatory issues” which could prevent the vehicles being rolled out on roads across Britain. Speaking at the Driverless Vehicles Conference at Thatcham on Wednesday, Mrs Perry said she could “see a future where driverless buses provide better and more frequent services”. “A major component of rural transport is the cost of the driver – and so a truly driverless bus could transform rural public transport in the future,” she said. “I understand that one of the country’s major bus companies is already interested in driverless buses. “Once we have resolved any regulatory issues that the department’s current review might highlight, this could be just the initiative to get the first driverless bus on the road.” Transport officials would not disclose which company has expressed an interest in rolling out the technology in the UK, but Transport for London is known to be anticipating their introduction in the coming decades. Mrs Perry’s comments came after the Government announced earlier this year that trials of driverless cars will take place in up to three cities in 2015 following a change in the Highway Code. The vehicles use GPS technology to determine their exact location and navigate their way across the road map, although the law will still initially require a driver to be seated at the wheel. A computer-controlled car made by Google has already clocked up more than 300,000 miles on trials in California, while the winners of the competition to run trials in the UK will be announced next month. Mrs Perry admitted the “sci-fi” vehicles could make people feel “unsure” on the road and announced a new study into how drivers, cyclists and pedestrians will react to them. “Driverless technology is the future. We can’t avoid it and we don’t want to,” she said. “I can also understand that some drivers will be – at the very least – unsure of them. “I have asked my officials to implement alongside the trials a study of driver and road user behaviour. I do believe this is important as a means to reassure the public that we are careful of the risk, but also recognising the need for progress.”