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Driverless cars could hit the streets of Oxford this year

DRIVERLESS cars could be zooming around the streets of Oxford by the end of this year.
Oxbotica – which has offices in Summertown and Culham – says it wants to trial autonomous vehicles on the city's road network in late 2017 and 2018.
The company has just started a major experiment with driverless shuttle buses in London and chief executive Dr Graeme Smith said he hoped to do the same here.
His bid is being backed by Oxfordshire County Council and Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, with the company bidding for government cash to fund the tests.

Dr Smith told the Oxford Mail: "The type of inner-city environment in Oxford is a very special case and it is one we intend to crack.
"We hope to see our vehicles running around in Oxford in not too long – we want to close some roads and run some tests towards the end of 2017.
"Then we'd like to carry out trials in 2018. It would be a mixture of different things, including tests on the actual road network.
"Oxford has similar traffic problems to lots of other places and there are lots of different scenarios to trial but we are equally interested in trying to help solve the issues here.
"We are based in the city and feel strongly about working here."
At the moment, Oxbotica is helping to run a trial of autonomous shuttle buses near to the O2 Arena, formerly known as the Millennium Dome.
Using a combination of lasers, cameras and GPS technology, the cars can navigate spaces used by cyclists and pedestrians at 10mph.
About 100 people are set to ride in them and they will be surveyed before and afterwards. A person is on board each vehicle to stop the bus if necessary.
The idea to test similar vehicles, as well as cars, in Oxford was last night enthusiastically supported by county council leader Ian Hudspeth, who said it would be 'fantastic'.
He added: "The county council is absolutely behind this proposal.
"It would be incredible to have driverless vehicles being tested in the city and it would really allow people to see up-close how this technology would actually work.
"There are of course barriers to overcome and some people have concerns about what happens if it goes wrong, but the majority of road accidents are from driver error – so these vehicles have the potential to make people's journeys safer and more comfortable.
"It could even help tackle Oxford's traffic problems, because they use road space more efficiently."
Self-driving cars were tested on public roads in the UK for the first time by Nissan last month.
The company clocked up more than 300 miles using prototypes of its Leaf model with driverless technology on busy routes in east London.
Last week the Government announced plans for the first phase of its £100m investment in testing infrastructure to develop autonomous driving technology.
It said a 'cluster of excellence' will be created along the M40, using existing testing centres in Oxford, Birmingham, Coventry, Milton Keynes and London.
Dr Smith said Oxford was 'slap bang in the middle' of this area and in an ideal position to capitalise on the support.
He said trials of driverless vehicles could also take place in Didcot, as well as a planned housing estate near the company's testing facilities at Culham.
That could even use a new road system designed to cater for driverless vehicles with purpose-built traffic lanes.

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