Isle of Man Could Become Driverless-Car Test Site
Manx government said to be offering use of the island as a hub for development
Driverless cars could be on the roads of the Isle of Man in the near future.
The Manx government is reportedly interested in inviting car companies and tech giants such as Google to road-test their autonomous prototypes on the island.
How expansive the project could be remains unclear. At present, the car-makers rely on private roads, test tracks and limited use of public roads to test their self-driving vehicles but, reports Ubergizmo, they could soon have “an entire island at their disposal”.
The Washington Post adds that a project spearheaded by Phil Gawne, the Manx transport minister, is underway to lure companies to the island. Given the size of the crown dependency –”about the size of Chicago” and with a population of 90,000 – its ability to move forward with the plan at a considerable rate of knots is thought to make for “an appealing destination for companies developing such vehicles”.
Any necessary legislation could be accommodated by summer, while the flexible approach of the government so far has differed from the more stand-offish affairs seen in the current hot-bed of self-driving car testing, California. Late last year, Google criticised Californian authorities over what it thought was overbearing legislation.
At present, Google uses simulated testing for much of its self-driving car development, racking up as many as three million virtual miles a day according to CNET.
Some are sceptical of the island’s credentials as a base for autonomous car programmes, though. The space being offered could provide a huge incentive, but criticism has been levelled at the lack of real-world relevance testing on the Isle of Man represents. When the technology eventually becomes available to consumers, big cities are the most likely destinations.
The island is known internationally for the Isle of Man TT motorcycle races. Self-driving cars could turn out to be another motoring coup.