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Self-driving car tests begin on Oxford's roads

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image copyrightProject Endeavour
image captionThe vehicles will all have a safety driver present who can take over control of the vehicle whenever it might be required.

Self-driving cars have begun being trialled on the streets of Oxford.

Tests of six autonomous vehicles have started as part of a government-backed research scheme called "Project Endeavour".

The trials were described as a "landmark" moment by Oxbotica, an Oxford-based company pioneering self-driving technology in the UK.

Oxford is believed to be the first city to hold trials in the UK ahead of tests in London and other unconfirmed cities.

The aim of the trials is to test out "level four" vehicle autonomy, which is part of a US-created system to determine how much driverless control a vehicle has.

A level zero vehicle is classed as having no automation while level five would be fully automated.

Level four means the car can drive itself without the need for a driver.

As part of the trials, due to last until next autumn, the cars will drive a nine-mile round trip from Oxford Parkway rail station to Oxford's main train station.

The vehicles will all have a safety driver who will take over control of the vehicle if required.

image copyrightProject Endeavour
image captionOxbotica claims its software can provide "universal autonomy" without the need for GPS or special road markings

The tests will be run at all times of day and night to test the vehicles in a range of traffic scenarios, including rush-hour commutes, and in different weather conditions.

Graeme Smith, senior vice president at Oxbotica, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the "first live on-road public trials" were a "key landmark" as the company worked with councils to "shape the future of mobility".

Most autonomous vehicles can only operate in an specific area with GPS technology before a driver has to take control, but Oxbotica claims its software can provide "universal autonomy" without the need for GPS or special road markings.

The tests come after the government launched a consultation on hands-free driving and said it could be legal on UK roads by spring 2021.

Related Topics

  • Oxford
  • Driverless cars

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