Google’s self-driving cars may come to London

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By Larry Banks

Google has recently expanded its US-based self-driving car trials to Texas and Kirkland, Washington since the original trials began, but the company is being courted by transport officials in London who are said to be in active discussions with the tech firm to convince it to bring the cars to England’s capital.

According to The Guardian, the deputy mayor for transport, Isabel Dedring, claimed the city’s officials have recently met with Google to persuade the firm to extend the pilot to London.

Dedring said that: “It’s going to have to work in big cities, so why don’t we start trialling it now? Google have said they are focused on the US, but they’re starting to think about going elsewhere, so we’re in active discussions”, adding “We met them a few weeks ago to see whether they would do trials here. 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 may be tempted by the offer as its cars must be tested in all conditions and a variety of roads. London therefore would provide a valuable testing ground for the firm. With heavy congestions, crowds of people, cyclists and smaller roads it would provide insightful data. It also would help acquire data on driving on the left.

Dedring however remains a skeptic of the technology, but she says that autonomous vehicles have some benefits. “They’re much safer as the computer controls the distance at which driverless cars drive and their speed. The likelihood of accidents goes down very substantially and therefore the size of the tunnel becomes substantially smaller“.

Google has not yet confirmed if it will indeed extend the trial to the UK, and appears initially focused on the US market only. It has only recently launched the self-driving pilot in its third city, and testing in London would necessitate time, expense and a dedicated team based in the UK.

SOURCE: The Guardian.

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