Google may have given self-driving vehicles the high-profile they currently enjoy, but it is not alone in doing extensive research on the new technology that’s tipped by industry insiders and technologists to go mainstream less than a decade from now. Right now, a number of companies worldwide have jumped on to the autonomous vehicles bandwagon. The list of names experimenting with or believed to be interested in such technology includes tech companies such as Google, Apple and Baidu, as well as automobile manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, GM, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Renault, Tesla, Toyota, Jaguar, Nissan and Tesla, among others.
Field tests are being conducted by several companies in various countries around the world including the US for some time, and if a new report in the British media is to be believed, the UK is set to join the list of countries to have driverless vehicles plying on its streets fairly soon. According to a report published by The Times (UK), the country will have self-driving trucks running on some of its highways as soon as later this year. The trucks will move in convoys of ten or more, and the area initially designated for the purpose is apparently a stretch of the M6 motorway near Carlisle. The plan is expected to be announced next week by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. George Osbourne.
The announcement will be part a bigger push from the UK government to look for new solutions to reduce congestion and cut emissions by increasing fuel efficiency. As part of the plan, the authorities in the country are already building smart roads and testing a number of technologies such as Wi-Fi, LTE, LTE-V and DSRC as a way to connect the autonomous vehicles to infrastructure such as traffic lights and road signs. While the exact models of the autonomous vehicles that will run on British public roads are yet to be specified, media reports seem to indicate that German automaker Daimler has already been testing self-driving Mercedes-Benz Actros trucks on Germany’s Autobahn 8 and have also received clearance from regulatory authorities in the US to test the vehicles stateside.