Traffic lights could be obsolete within 20 years after a landmark trial of driverless vehicles in the UK, an engineer has claimed.
During a two-year trial, two self-driving cars built by Nissan completed hundreds of laps on a 2.7-mile route in Woolwich, southeast London.
It is believed to be the UK’s first trial of driverless technology involving the use of roadside infrastructure and the vehicle’s own systems, and it forms part of the ServCity project.
Some 270 cameras placed along the route enable the Japanese-made Nissan Leaf to anticipate potential warnings, such as a bus stopping in its lane, allowing them to quickly change lanes.
Smart Mobility Living Lab (SMLL) engineer Thomas Tompkin claimed the trial showed that “a sea change in the way we lay out roads” was possible.
“If we think 20 or 30 years out, can you start thinking about the infrastructure out there?
“Can you start removing some of the infrastructure, like traffic lights?
“Obviously, there’s a lot of work to be done before that happens.
“But that’s where you can start to see a sea change in the way our roads are laid out.”
In the past, the prospect of self-driving cars has been backed by the UK government, which has said it will work to introduce legislation to enable their use.
It has also invested £7m in the ServCity project to be at the “frontier of innovation”, according to Transport Secretary Jesse Norman.
High-spec roadside systems currently cost around £1m per kilometer, but Mr Tompkin believes that for a fraction of that price, the more basic technology could be rolled out more widely.
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increased accident risk
Meanwhile, in the United States, Tesla recently announced a recall of 362,000 vehicles Because of fears their Full Self-Driving (FSD) software might cause a crash.
NHTSA, the regulator that has been investigating the company’s Autopilot system, said Tesla’s software increased the risk of accidents by allowing vehicles to “speed or negotiate intersections in an illegal or unpredictable manner.”
“Circumstances where problems could arise include driving or turning at certain intersections during amber traffic lights and changing lanes from certain turn-only lanes to continue straight,” the regulator said in a statement.
Tesla said it was not aware of any injuries that could be related to the recall issue.