Driverless cars to run between London and Oxford in some two years

Updated 2017-04-25 11:01:10 Xinhua

Driverless cars will run on the 100-km road between London and Oxford in about two years, the government-run atomic energy agency UKAEA announced Monday.

The project is among a number of major investments in this area announced by UKAEA, which is to use its state of the art robotics technology center, known as RACE, at the Culham Science Center in Oxford, to consolidate its position as a test site for driverless cars.

A UKAEA spokesman said in a press release: "These projects will play a key role in putting the first driverless cars on public roads in the coming years. Most notable is the DRIVEN consortium led by award-winning driverless car developers Oxbotica."

DRIVEN has won 10.25 million U.S. dollars in funding from the government's Center for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles investment.

The release said: "This will go towards developing and operating a fleet of vehicles to operate on public roads, with complete autonomy, within the next two and half years."

It added that "The project will culminate with these vehicles travelling autonomously from London to Oxford ,with safety drivers on board as a precaution, as a public demonstration of the viability of this technology."

RACE will play a key role in the project, with Oxbotica using the RACE site for its main field test activities, making use of 10 kilometers of roads, junctions, roundabouts, even traffic lights and pedestrian crossings within the closed Culham site.

It is described by UKAEA as a perfect test track for driverless vehicles to test their ability to monitor and react to other vehicles, cyclists and people in realistic circumstances, whatever the weather.

The latest funding comes as strong support builds for the whole robotics and artificial intelligence community.

Cutting edge artificial intelligence and robotics systems that will operate in extreme and hazardous environments will benefit from a 350 million U.S. dollars Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund announced earlier this year by the government.

RACE director Rob Buckingham said: "DRIVEN reinforces our aspiration to enable connected and autonomous vehicles to be widely adopted. Starting in Oxfordshire we are already thinking about how autonomous vehicles fit within a modern transport plans."

The Culham Science Center, owned and managed by UKAEA is based in one of the most successful science locations in Britain, promoting Oxfordshire as a global hot spot for enterprise and innovation in science, high technology and the application of knowledge.

The DRIVEN consortium is led by Oxbotica Ltd., along with the Oxford Robotics Institute, insurer XL Catlin, Nominet, Telefonica, the Transport Research Laboratory, UKAEA's RACE facility, Oxfordshire County Council, Transport for London and Westbourne Communications.

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