Ford is a key company in bringing driverless cars to UK

The Ford Motor Company is making huge steps into the production of driverless cars, being one of the key manufacturers to help bring automated vehicles to UK cities from January 2015. Should it be successful, it could mean that official Ford dealerships could be offering self-driving vehicles in just a matter of years.

Called the UK Autodrive Programme, Ford has joined Jaguar Land Rover and a host of universities and engineering consultancies to introduce driverless pods to four areas across the UK: Bristol, Greenwich, Coventry and Milton Keynes.

They will be testing self-driving cars on real roads and driverless pods in pedestrianised areas – such as Milton Keynes. In Greenwich, electric shuttle buses will be tested alongside automated valet parking. 

Hoped to increase awareness of technology
It is hoped that the testing of driverless cars in urban environments could lead to a greater understanding of the technology and allow people to envisage how they could fit into everyday life. The cars will be trialled for between 18 and 36 months from January 2015, after which a final decision on the matter is likely to be made. 

It aims to replicate a similar project that was collated in the US, one which found that 56 per cent of Americans feel that self-driving cars would result in fewer accidents. It also uncovered the most popular reasons to purchase a self-driving car, those being the ability to do other tasks while driving, not having to park and also to benefit from lower insurance rates.

Should the driverless car be approved in the years to come, it is thought that they could help to reduce congestion, improve air quality and help people to use roads more efficiently and safely.

It’s a great example as to how the Ford Motor Company consistently looks to improve the technology offered to its customers. Should the experiments be received positively, it could potentially lead to automated versions of the Ford Focus or other new Ford vehicles on the roads of the UK in the future.

Image Credit: Matt Biddulph ()

This content was written by Ben Edwards. Please feel free to visit my Google+ Profile to read more stories.