First driverless cars trial hailed a success

Driverless cars have been wheeled out for their first public trial in the UK in a 'ground-breaking moment'.

Passengers experienced the premiere trip of the autonomous electric vehicles on the pavements of Milton Keynes.

It is hoped yesterday morning’s tests will clear the way for cars that operate without human control to make their way on to UK roads.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Today’s first public trials of driverless vehicles in our towns is a ground-breaking moment and further evidence that Britain is at the forefront of innovation.

“The global market for autonomous vehicles presents huge opportunities for our automotive and technology firms. And the research that underpins the technology and software will have applications way beyond autonomous vehicles.”

The two-seater pods, which are similar to Smart cars in appearance, are versions of the Lutz Pathfinder, the UK’s first driverless car.

They operate at speeds of up to 15mph without human assistance and follow routes from virtual maps.

They sense their surroundings using cameras and Lidar, a syste m similar to radar but using light from a laser and developed by Oxford University.

The cars’ first public outing took place near the Buckinghamshire town’s railway station in co-operation with the council.

Transport Systems Catapult (TSC), the not-for-profit research centre which ran the trial and is helping to develop the technology, hailed it a “success”.

Neil Fulton, programme director at TSC, said: “Driverless vehicles are coming to Britain and what we have demonstrated today is a huge step on that journey.”

See Morning View, page 20