After a six-month review, the U.K. government has given driverless cars the greenlight for testing on public roads.
A news release from the Department for Transport notes that no laws currently exist that would prohibit the driverless cars, though roadway laws and regulations would need to be modified.
Transport Minister Claire Perry said, “These are still early days but today is an important step. The trials present a fantastic opportunity for this country to take a lead internationally in the development of this new technology.”
Serious about leading the way in the development of driverless cars, the government has also provided 19 million pounds in funding for tests.
The government has required that a driver be in the vehicles to take control in case of an emergency during the tests.
Proponents of the driverless cars point to the potential of increased free time for other activities while allowing cars to navigate, noting that the average worker’s commute during a year averages well over 200 hours.
The idea of a driverless car doesn’t have everyone so excited in the U.K. The Huffington Post cited a poll that found that 48% of respondents said they would not be a passenger in a robot car, 16% were “horrified” by the idea of driverless cars, and 35% reckoned the project would drive up insurance premiums.