London transport chiefs hope to lure Google’s self-driving cars to capital

The UK has set out to woo foreign car companies in the hopes of getting a fast start in the race to develop 21st-century automobile technology.

Transport authorities in London are hoping to persuade Google to trial its driverless cars in the UK capital, and the government of the Isle of Man has suggested that the entire island could be made available as a testing ground.

Isabel Dedring, London’s deputy mayor for transport, told The Guardian that meetings had taken place between the mayor’s office and Google to encourage the tech giant to bring its pilot scheme to the capital.

She said: "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.

"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."

Meanwhile, Phil Gawne, transportation minister of the Isle of Man, has suggested that instead of a city, driverless car companies could have "an entire island at their disposal".

He said: "We like to be innovative on the island. We like also to be independent. This helps both those areas in terms of our international image and reputation."

An aerial view of the Isle of Man (KGGucwa/Wikimedia Commons)

Gawne added that the island’s government had been in touch with a number of vehicle companies, and that any changes to the law could be completed by summer.

Google has previously criticised California’s laws that restrict self-driving cars.

The US has recently pledged $4bn for autonomous vehicle research and Google has announced that its cars have driven for a million miles without any serious crashes or collisions.

Driverless "pod" public transport is due to be trialled in UK by 2018.

The US city of Michigan has built a fake city to see how driverless cars behave in a setting similar to the real world.

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