Driverless Car Testing Begins in the United Kingdom

April 16, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. gear /gɪər/ (v.) – to make preparations or be ready for something
Example: The company gears toward becoming number one in sales.

2. phase /feɪz/ (n.) – a stage or period in a process
Example: The car’s manufacturing process is divided into three phases.

3. stand out /stænd aʊt/ (phrasal v.) – to be the most famous or known among others
Example: Toyota’s latest model stood out in the car show.

4. compact /kəmˈpækt/ (adj.) – smaller than the usual and occupies little space
Example: His compact camera is light and easy to use.

5. follow suit /ˈfɒl oʊ sut/ (idiom) – to follow the example of something or do the similar thing
Example: Car companies are following suit as more manufacturers make electric cars.


Read the text below.
The government of the United Kingdom gears toward being the world leader in driverless technology.   

According to the UK Secretary of State for Business, the government has allotted £19 million to fund driverless vehicle trials. He believes that investing on technological innovations like driverless cars can enhance the country’s economic growth. The government expects that the driverless car industry will be worth £900 billion by 2025.

The testing phase will run for 18 to 36 months and has started on January 1, 2015. The tests are being held in four different towns in Britain—Keynes [keynz], Bristol [BRIS-tl], Coventry [KUHV-uh n-tree, KOV-], and Greenwich [GRIN-ich, GREN-]. One of the four driverless car models tested is the Low-carbon Urban Transport Zone (LUTZ) Pathfinder pod. It stands out among the others because it can be linked to phones via a smartphone app.

The LUTZ pod is a compact two-seater, electric-powered vehicle. The car contains 19 sensors, cameras, and radar. The car is run by a computer as powerful as two advanced gaming computers. It runs in slow speed and is tested with a driver during the testing period.

There is also an emerging trend of using driverless cars in the United States. In 2012, Nevada became the first state to allow testing of driverless cars on public roads. Other states that followed suit were Florida, California, and Michigan.

Google Inc., a leading developer of this technology, also expects to officially release its self-driving cars two to five years from now. Carmakers Toyota, Volkswagen, and Mercedes-Benz are also developing their versions of autonomous electric cars, which were previewed in the Consumer Electronics Show 2015.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Would you ride a self-driving car? Why or why not?
·         What are the benefits of a driverless car?

Discussion B

·         Do you think roads are safer with robotic cars? Why or why not?
·         What features of a car do you think manufacturers should focus on improving the most?

April 16, 2015