Dual carriageway becomes Britain’s first road to be fitted with technology for SELF-DRIVING CARS

October 4, 2013 | by | 0 Comments

A dual carriageway has become the first road in Britain to be fitted with the technology that could one day see the self-driving cars of science fiction become reality.

The A14 between Cambridge and Felixstowe has had sensors installed along a 50-mile stretch linked to a high-speed internet connection.

Later this month they will start sending signals to and from electronic receivers in vehicles taking part in trials of the new technology.

The A14 near Cambridge which has been fitted with technology for self-driving cars

The A14 near Cambridge which has been fitted with technology for self-driving cars

The system will initially be used for traffic management with speed and location information being sent from vehicles and congestion updates being relayed to motorists.

Longer-term, the sensors could connect to mobile phones and be used to levy tolls or enforce speed limits

And eventually they could be used to instruct onboard computers to override the driver by directing cars onto a diversion or imposing a maximum speed.

It means autonomous cars featured in sci-fi movies such as Blade Runner, Minority Report and iRobot could one day be a reality.

The sensors are being fitted by BT in partnership with wireless network company Neul of Histon, Cambs.

Ben Peters of Neul said: “What we are aiming for is to be able to manage traffic more effectively, which has economic benefits, and for motorists means they should be able to avoid queues.

“This is an enabling technology for autonomous cars but there are a lot of other safety and confidentiality issues.

“The technology is now here to do this kind of things, but it’s more a question of politics for when these kind of applications take off.

“Directed traffic, where cars are directed into certain lanes or directed to take a certain route based on traffic flow, is something that I’m sure we will see enabled by technology like ours in the next few years.

“I think it’s probably at least 10 years, if not tens of years, before governments regulate such applications.”

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