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Driverless cars to be tested on UK roads by end of 2013

London, July 19 (): Driverless cars will be put to test on UK roads later this year, the government has revealed. So far, in UK the tests were only done on private property. But the UK government is now expecting to begin testing in city streets by the end of this year. Trials will soon take place on lightly used rural and suburban roads, The Telegraph reported.

A back-up driver will be present in the computer-controlled vehicles when they are tested on public roads, just in case of any emergencies or accidents.

The driverless cars are guided by sensors and cameras that could potentially make them safer than human-controlled vehicles.

Researchers from the Oxford University have been working with Japanese multinational automaker Nissan on the technology and have already tested a car on a private road in a science park. The driverless cars, or semi-autonomous vehicles, had been tested with some success.

The driverless vehicles will have a driver present but are capable of driving fully independently, using knowledge of the environment in which they are driving.

The “RobotCars” have lasers and cameras rigged to the exterior, and two computers in the boot to handle calculations. Apart from the two main controller computers, the RobotCar uses an iPad for user interaction. If any of the three computers disagree, the car asks the driver to take control. If the driver doesn’t respond, the car applies the brakes.

Google has also been developing its own driverless cars, using a converted Toyota Pruis. These prototypes have already been driving around on public roads and have covered over 300,000 miles so far. Last year, California legalised self-driving cars on its public roads.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin said he believed the self-driving car would “dramatically improve the quality of life for everyone”, and that it would be commercially available within a decade.