Driverless cars operated by smartphone hit streets of Milton Keynes

Future road sign

The Automotive Council has announced a driverless car trial due to start in Milton Keynes from 2015.

In a joint study with Cambridge University and engineering firm Arup, 100 driverless cars will hit the Buckinghamshire town's streets as part of the Automotive Council's five-year project, set to cost 65 million.

The battery-powered pod cars can drive at speeds up to 12mph along separate road lanes and will feature sensors to avoid objects, including pedestrians.

A GPS module will help the cars navigate around the town, with the route planned for Milton Keynes Central train station, the centre:mk shopping centre and offices in between the two landmarks.

Business secretary Vince Cable told The Mirror, "Driverless cars have the potential to generate the kind of high-skilled jobs we want Britain to be famous for as well as cutting congestion and pollution and improving road safety."

If successful, driverless cars will be rolled out of beta in 2017, allowing commuters in the town to travel to the train station or their office for just 2 a journey, payable via a smartphone application or booths situated along the route.

In April 2013, Oxford University announced a similar experiment where a modified BAE Wildcat military jeep took part in a trial around Oxford and Woodstock.

The car was programmed with three-dimensional map routes and navigated around the areas using cameras and laser sensors to sense other cars and obstacles.

Secretary of state for transport, Patrick McLoughlin presented a report about driverless cars in July this year, explaining the benefits such transport would have.

"We will take this technology, which has only been used on specific links, and apply it as a standard to some of our busiest national routes," he said.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.