U.K. Wants to Test Google’s Self-Driving Cars
U.K. transportation officials reportedly want Google to bring its self-driving cars across the pond.
Isabel Dedring, Britain’s deputy mayor for transport, on Friday said she met with the tech titan to discuss extending its autonomous vehicle testing to London. “It’s going to have to work in big cities, so why don’t we start trialing it now?” she told The Guardian last week. “Google [is] focused on the U.S., but they’re starting to think about going elsewhere, so we’re in active discussions.”
Google has been working on self-driving car technology for more than five years, and introduced its own Little Tikes Cozy Coupe-like vehicle in 2014. Since then, the prototype has traveled millions of miles on California and Texas roads. The company last week announced plans to branch out and test a handful of autonomous Lexus RX450h SUVs in Washington state.
But so far, there are no plans to cross the pond, where the cars would have to learn to navigate from the opposite side of the street.
“We met them a few weeks ago to see whether they would do trials here,” Dedring told The Guardian. “It is still very early days, but we would be keen for trials to happen in London whenever Google are ready to move them into other countries.”
Google declined to comment on the reports; the U.K.’s Department of Transport did not immediately respond to PCMag’s request for comment.
Speaking at a future roads policy event in London, Dedring recently admitted that she is “personally a bit skeptical about the technology,”The Guardian said. “If you’ve got a traffic jam full of driverless cars, that is not better than a traffic jam full of drivers.”
Autonomous car supporters argue that self-driving cars could help traffic since they’d be able to travel at closer distances, freeing up space on the road. London, however, is notoriously congested; those who want to drive there must pay a daily congestion fee.
Jaguar Land Rover, meanwhile, just signed on to join the three-year, £5.5 million ($7.9 million) U.K. Connected Intelligent Transport Environment project. The “living laboratory” of public roads lets car makers test systems that enable vehicles to talk to each other and the roadside infrastructure around them.