Driverless car bid to go in

Daventry district will officially submit a bid to become the UK’s driverless car test area after the proposal was backed by councillors on January 30.

Daventry District Council will now draw up an area covering the town and hopefully part of the rural area for the bid, which the Government said is worth £10 million.

The proposal was previously backed by the council’s strategy group in January.

If the application is successful, part of the district, including the town of Daventry and an adjacent rural area, would be used as a site for customer testing of the driverless vehicles that are currently being developed by companies including Google and major motor manufacturers.

Cllr Chris Over, DDC’s economic, regeneration and employment portfolio holder, said: “As a forward-looking authority, this council has explored a range of options in recent years that could provide a low-carbon public transport network for Daventry in the face of a growing population and to support business growth and job creation.

“That work has earned the district an international reputation for exploring innovative transport solutions.

“I am very pleased fellow members have agreed to proceed with the bid for the driverless cars project. This bid, if successful, will deliver some £10 million of inward investment, bring high-tech high-value employment, a further boost to the local economy, and will keep Daventry at the leading edge of applied technology and advanced transport systems. This is a £10 million win-win opportunity.”

Daventry is already known around the world for exploring modern transport. In 2007 the council hosted an international conference on advanced transport, which saw delegates from around the world coming to the town to see various vehicles been tested along Eastern Way.

In the past the council also explored installing a pod network for small four-seater vehicles and, after ruling that out for the time being, looked at group transport using automated buses.

One of the advantages of driverless car technology is that it uses existing roads and merges with normal traffic, meaning additional infrastructure, such as overhead tracks or rails, is not required.

Should the bid prove successful, DDC hopes the district’s profile will once again be raised, attracting investment from suppliers and operators of automated vehicles.