British tech firms plan major autonomous vehicle testing project in 2019

A group of British tech companies have unveiled plans to test autonomous vehicles on British roads and motorways in the next three years.

The Driven group, led by driverless software maker Oxbotica, said that the vehicles will perform “all safety-critical driving functions” and monitor road conditions for an entire trip between London to Oxford.

Dr Graeme Smith, chief executive of Oxford-based company Oxbotica, which is part of the consortium, said:

“Today’s news is truly ground-breaking. No company, group or consortium of autonomy experts has ever attempted what Driven is planning over the next 30 months.

“We are seeking to address some of the most fundamental challenges preventing the future commercial deployment of fully autonomous vehicles.”

Professor Paul Newman, of Oxford University, said:

“Driven is the first of its kind and brings a host of new questions surrounding the way these vehicles will communicate with each other.

“We’re moving from the singleton autonomous vehicle to fleets of autonomous vehicles and what’s interesting is what data the vehicles share with one another, when and why.”

The project is being backed by a £8.6 million grant from the Government. The British government has committed around £100m in total towards autonomous driving projects.

However, Prof David Bailey from Aston Business School, was quoted by the BBC as saying:

“Britain is trying to keep up, but the big development in the field is going on elsewhere.

“That includes Google in the US, Volvo in China and Daimler in Germany.

“And amounts being committed [by the UK] are relatively small beer.

“The Obama government, for example, proposed spending billions of dollars over 10 years.”