DRIVERLESS cars will be on the streets of South Gloucestershire after the VENTURER consortium secured funding from Innovate UK to test them.

This appointment follows today’s Autumn statement announcement to make the UK a world centre for the testing and development of this new technology.

VENTURER is made up of organisations in the South West which includes Atkins, Bristol City Council, South Gloucestershire Council, AXA, Williams Advanced Engineering, Fusion Processing, Centre for Transport and Society, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), University of Bristol and Bristol Robotics Laboratory, a collaboration between the University of Bristol and UWE Bristol.

Lee Woodcock, VENTURER project lead and technology director for Atkins’ Highways and Transportation business said: “We are thrilled to be appointed by Innovate UK to lead the UK development of an independent test site for, and a market leading capability in, autonomous vehicles.

“The VENTURER consortium have joined forces to explore the feasibility of driverless cars in the UK, by trialling autonomous vehicles in the Bristol region, investigating the legal and insurance aspects of driverless cars and exploring how the public react to such vehicles.

“This programme will help keep the UK at the forefront of this transformational technology, helping to deepen our understanding of the impact on road users and wider society and open up new opportunities for our economy and society.”

Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson said: “Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council have a long-standing commitment to sustainability and we place green issues at the heart of our vision for the city.

“To help achieve this, significant investment is being made in renewable energy schemes. Bristol is also working to cut its CO2 emissions by 40 per cent by 2020.

“As we embark on our year as European Green Capital 2015, we hope to seize even more opportunities to bring new investment, businesses and visitors to the region.”

Business secretary, Vince Cable said: “The UK is a world-leader in the development of driverless technology, and today’s announcement will see driverless cars take to city streets from January 1. This not only puts us at the forefront of this transformational technology but it also opens up new opportunities for our economy and society.”