Driverless cars will be allowed on UK’s public roads from January 2015, the government has announced.
The UK’s government also invited cities to compete to host one of three trials of the tech, which would start at the same time.
In addition, ministers ordered a review of the UK’s road regulations to provide appropriate guidelines.
The Department for Transport had originally pledged to let self-driving cars be trialed on public roads by the end of 2013.
Business Secretary Vince Cable revealed the details of the new plan at a research facility belonging to Mira, an automotive engineering firm based in the Midlands.
“Today’s announcement will see driverless cars take to our streets in less than six months, putting us at the forefront of this transformational technology and opening up new opportunities for our economy and society,” he said.
UK engineers, including a group at the University of Oxford, have been experimenting with driverless cars. But, concerns about legal and insurance issues have so far restricted the machines to private roads.
Driverless cars will be allowed on UK’s public roads from January 2015
Other countries have, however, been swifter to provide access to public routes.
The US States of California, Nevada and Florida have all approved tests of the vehicles. In California alone, Google’s driverless car has done more than 300,000 miles on the open road.
In 2013, Nissan carried out Japan’s first public road test of an autonomous vehicle on a highway.
In Europe, the Swedish city of Gothenburg has given Volvo permission to test 1,000 driverless cars – although that trial is not scheduled to occur until 2017.
UK cities wanting to host one of the trials have until the start of October to declare their interest.
The tests are then intended to run for between 18 to 36 months.
A £10 million ($16 million) fund has been created to cover their costs, with the sum to be divided between the three winners.
Meanwhile, civil servants have been given until the end of this year to publish a review of road regulations.
This will cover the need for self-drive vehicles to comply with safety and traffic laws, and involve changes to the Highway Code, which applies to England, Scotland and Wales.
Two area will be examined by the review: how the rules should apply to vehicles in which the driver can take back control at short notice, and how they should apply to vehicles in which there is no driver.
In May, Google unveiled plans to manufacture 100 self-driving vehicles.
The search-giant exhibited a prototype which has no steering wheel or pedals – just a stop-go button.
Google has also put its autonomous driving technology in cars built by other companies, including Toyota, Audi and Lexus.
Other major manufacturers, including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and General Motors, are developing their own models.
Most recently, the Chinese search engine Baidu also declared an interest, saying its research labs were at an “early stage of development” on a driverless car project.
However, concerns about the safety of driverless cars have been raised by politicians in the US and elsewhere.
The FBI warned that driverless cars could be used as lethal weapons, predicting that the vehicles “will have a high impact on transforming what both law enforcement and its adversaries can operationally do with a car”.
Google reveals its annual zeitgeist – the people, places and things that are clicking the most with UK internet users in 2011.
Top of the most-searched celebrities is US reality star Kim Kardashian, whose profile was boosted further this year after marrying and then divorcing basketball player Kris Humphries in just three months.
Next behind her was Victoria Beckham, who gave birth to her and husband David’s first daughter, Harper Seven, in July, followed by Harry Potter actress Emma Watson in third.
Amy Winehouse, who died earlier this year in tragic circumstances, comes in fifth.
Ricky Gervais, undoubtedly buoyed by his notorious appearance as MC for the Golden Globes, was the only male to make into the top ten.
Google also revealed the year’s fastest-rising searches which was topped by a country mile by the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, who also featured in the top ten fasting-rising people section.
Another American reality TV star, the late Ryan Dunn of Jackass fame, was the fastest-rising person ahead of singer Adele, while Breaking Dawn leads the fastest-rising movies list.
X Factor hit number 1 in the TV shows chart.
1. Kim Kardashian
2. Victoria Beckham
3. Emma Watson
4. Scarlett Johansson
5. Jennifer Aniston
6. Britney Spears
7. Megan Fox
8. Ricky Gervais
9. Jessica Jane
10. Angelina Jolie
1. Royal wedding
2. iPhone 5
3. Fifa 12
5. iPad 2
6. Ryan Dunn
9. Rebecca Black
10. Ed Sheeran
1. Ryan Dunn
3. Rebecca Black
4. Ed Sheeran
5. Amy Winehouse
6. Charlie Sheen
7. Steve Jobs
8. Kate Middleton
9. Nicki Minaj
10. Darren Criss
TV SHOWS (FASTEST-RISING)
1. X Factor 2011
2. Apprentice 2011
3. X Factor USA
4. NCIS season 9
5. House season 8
6. Glee season 3
7. Thundercats 2011
8. Big Brother 13
9. Supernatural season 7
10. Smallville season 10
There is also a list of the most popular “what is…” searches, in which AV – the Alternative Vote – clearly baffled electors the most. This was followed, bizarrely, by scampi, piles and truffles.
Also revealed are the fastest rising travel destinations, sports terms, news, food and drink, music and top TV searches.
The Google zeitgeist list – meaning spirit of the times – is compiled from the searches through Google each year. Individual searchers are not identified.
Dominick Chilcott, the British ambassador in Iran claims the ruling regime at Tehran is likely to have supported an attack on the UK’s embassy in the country.
Dominick Chilcott told the BBC Iran is a country in which such action is only taken “with the acquiescence and the support of the state”.
Hundreds of protesters attacked the UK embassy in Tehran on Tuesday.
Diplomats working at the Iranian embassy in London have left Britain after being expelled.
Dominick Chilcott, the British ambassador in Iran claims the ruling regime at Tehran is likely to have supported an attack on the UK's embassy in the country
The Iranian diplomats expelled from the UK flew out of Heathrow on a chartered Iran Air flight on Friday afternoon.
The Iranian diplomats’ expulsion was ordered by Foreign Secretary William Hague after the British embassy in Tehran was stormed on Tuesday.
Iran said it regretted the incident, which it described as “unacceptable behaviour by a small number of protesters”.
Dominick Chilcott, the newly appointed British ambassador to Iran, said the attack was likely to have had state backing.
“Iran is not the sort of country where spontaneously a demonstration congregates and then attacks a foreign embassy. That sort of activity is only done with the acquiescence and the support of the state.
“And there are a number of reasons why, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s very clear that this was a state-supported activity.”
Dominick Chilcott also said some within Iran’s ruling regime may have underestimated the British response.
“The risk is that certain people in the regime who liked the idea of confrontation, because they felt it would rally people to the flag, miscalculated how strong the response would be,” he said.
“They probably didn’t expect us to send home the Iranian embassy in London and, reading between the lines, you can see in the way they have responded to that move, some remorse in having provoked it. I think that might apply more generally too.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the UK’s relationship with Iran had “taken a very serious knock”.
“Something really bad happened when the Iranian authorities allowed those people to overrun our embassy compounds, and it is quite right that we have been very clear in our response – as have many other European countries who have withdrawn their ambassadors for consultations.
“It doesn’t mean we’re cutting off all diplomatic relations with Iran. It doesn’t mean we are in any way lessening our determination to try to find a diplomatic solution to the nuclear question, which is immensely important to Europe and the whole world, and we will continue to work tirelessly to find a negotiated solution.”
On Wednesday, Foreign Secretary William Hague told MPs: “If any country makes it impossible for us to operate on their soil, they cannot expect to have a functioning embassy here.”
He said there had been “some degree of regime consent” in the attacks on the embassy and on another UK diplomatic compound in Tehran.
William Hague also said all UK diplomatic staff in Tehran had been evacuated and the embassy closed.
He said relations between the UK and Iran were now at their lowest level, but the UK was not severing relations with Tehran entirely.
Iran’s foreign ministry described the British move as “hasty” and said Iran would take “further appropriate action”, Reuters news agency quoted state TV as saying.
Germany, France and the Netherlands announced on Wednesday that they were recalling their ambassadors to Tehran for consultation, and Norway said it was temporarily closing its embassy there as a precaution.
Hundreds of protesters – whom Iran described as “students” – massed outside the embassy compound on Tuesday afternoon before scaling the walls and the gates, burning British flags and a car.
Another UK diplomatic compound in northern Tehran, known locally as Qolhak Garden, was also overrun and damaged.
William Hague said the majority of those taking part had been members of a regime-backed Basij militia group.
He said the private quarters of staff and the ambassador had been ransacked, the main embassy office set on fire and personal possessions belonging to UK diplomats stolen.
The US, EU and UN Security Council also condemned the attacks.
Last week, the US, Canada and the UK announced new sanctions against Iran, including measures to restrict the activities of the Iranian central bank.
The UK said then it was severing all financial ties with Iran.
The move followed a report by the UN’s nuclear watchdog that said Iran had carried out tests “relevant to the development of a nuclear device”.
Iran denies the accusations, saying its nuclear programme is solely for peaceful purposes.
On Sunday, Iran’s parliament voted by a large majority to downgrade diplomatic relations with the UK in response to the recent action.
At least 7 people were killed and 51 injured in a horrific 27 vehicles crash on the M5 motorway near Taunton, Somerset, UK.
The crash described by the emergency services as one of the worst they have ever seen.
There are fears the death toll could soar even higher as police said they believe bodies may still be trapped in vehicles which have been left “burnt and unrecognisable”.
The horrific crash on the northbound carriageway near Taunton, Somerset, involved 23 cars and vans and four lorries.
According to police, the vehicles were “immediately alight” following the crash as a huge fire engulfed the carriageway.
At least 7 people were killed and 51 injured in a horrific 27 vehicles crash on the M5 motorway near Taunton, Somerset, UK
Police confirmed that a fireworks display was going on nearby when the collision happened at 8:25 p.m. last night and said the road was wet and there was fog in the area at the time.
Television footage showed motorists trying to pry open vehicle doors in a bid to rescue those trapped. The motorway will remain closed until at least tomorrow as repairs are carried out.
The crash is the worst on British roads since 1991 when 10 people were killed and 25 injured in a huge pile-up on the M4 in Hungerford, Berkshire.
Transport Secretary Justine Greening expressed sympathy with the families of those affected by the tragedy and thanked rescue rescue workers and emergency staff who worked throughout the night to help the injured.
15 appliances raced to the scene and immediately closed off the motorway in both directions. It is expected to be shut for the next 24 hours while emergency workers recover bodies and clear the debris from the accident.
Firefighters used hydraulic equipment to pull injured from the wrecked vehicles. Some had “life changing”injuries.
According to eyewitnesses, the pile-up was triggered when an Iceland truck suddenly disappeared into a “black hole” of fog.
Andrea Day from Trafficlink said it was the worst accident she has seen in the 10 years she had been working for the traffic information provider.
“I have never come across an accident of this kind – not in terms of the volume of vehicles involved.”
Paul Slaven from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service told the BBC:
“This is the worst road traffic collision anyone can remember… so many vehicles involved.”
Asked why the vehicle fires had been so fierce he said:
“I have not had a report of any toxic or chemical material being carried by any vehicles it is just a case of the number of vehicles involved and the type of vehicle.
“At least two of the vehicles on fire were articulated lorries and there would be a lot of fuel on them.”
Paul Slaven added that it was too early to speculate what had caused the pile-up, but said there had been a number of contributing factors which made road conditions dangerous.
“The weather was not particularly good at the time and it would have been particularly busy at the time because of the Bridgwater Carnival,” Paul Slaven said.
He said the police were in the process of setting up a dedicated telephone line for worried relatives of people who may have been in the area at the time of the incident.
Today the Highways Agency urged all motorists to avoid the area, with the northbound and southbound sections between junctions 25 and 24 closed off.
Dr. Colin Close, medical director for Taunton’s Musgrove Park Hospital where many of the injured are being treated, said the hospital had dealt with “nothing of this magnitude ever before”.
“The injuries of those brought in ranged from simple limb fractures to more complex chest and abdominal trauma,” he said.
One surgeon was flown in by helicopter from Exeter to help treat the casualties.
“They have been treated and none are in a critical condition. Everyone is stable.”
The moment when two muggers hurled a pram with a baby inside to the ground as they rob his mum and grandmother in Bolton town centre, UK, was captured on CCTV.
The muggers ambushed the two women from behind as they pushed the three-month-old tot home following an afternoon shopping trip in Bolton.
The attackers punched the 56-year old grandmother about the head then dragged the pram over as they grabbed at the two women’s handbags.
After a violent struggle the muggers ran off with one of the bags as the baby who was strapped inside lay screaming.
The moment when two muggers hurled a pram with a baby inside to the ground as they rob his mum and grandmother in Bolton town centre, UK, was captured on CCTV
The baby’s mother, 33, ran after the thugs but collapsed almost immediately through exhaustion.
The grandmother suffered minor injuries after being hit on the head. The baby escaped unscathed.
Greater Manchester Police issued pictures of the robbery today and it emerged the muggers might have deliberately targeted the women because they had the baby with them.
The incident happened at just after 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 15, when the two women were walking back after shopping in Bolton town centre.
The mother was carrying a number of shopping bags, while the grandmother was pushing the pram and had both women’s handbags hung over her shoulders.
The women were walking down a footpath leading to the Sandyhills area, when two men crept up behind them.
The grandmother felt a blow to her head and screamed as she fell to the floor, causing the pram to topple over onto its side.
The muggers pulled at the handbags and managed to get them over the woman’s shoulders. The young woman grabbed hold of one of the bags and managed to wrestle it back from one of the yobs. But they ran off with the other handbag.
Detective Inspector Stuart Wilkinson from Greater Manchester Police said: “These were the actions of two desperate individuals who had no regard whatsoever for the wellbeing of these two women or the young baby they were with.
“As you can see from the CCTV, it is lucky that the baby was strapped into the pram and wasn’t injured during this robbery.”
For many years, British passport applicants have been required to provide details of their mother and father; now, after pressure from the gay rights group lobby, the new PC passports will be given the option of naming “parent 1” and “parent 2”.
The change, which is due to take place by December 2011, has been made following claims the original form was “discriminatory” and failed to include same-sex couples looking after a child.
It has led to claims the official travel document is being turned into a “PC passport”.
Campaigners for family values said the move “denigrated” the roles of parents bringing up children in traditional families.
Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, said:
“Fathers and mothers are not interchangeable but have quite distinct roles to play in the care and nurture of their children.
“To speak of <<parent 1>> and <<parent 2>> denigrates the place of both fathers and mothers.
“Much as the equality and diversity social engineers might wish it were otherwise, it still takes a father and a mother to produce a child.”
The decision follows the revelation last month that details of the holder’s sex could be erased from all passports to spare transgender people from embarrassment.
The new PC passport changes follow lobby activity from gay groups
The latest shift follows lobbying from gay rights groups, who argue that the current passport application form fails to recognize same-sex couples who are both officially registered as a child’s parents.
The Home Office “Diversity Strategy” states: “IPS [the Identity and Passport Service] is working with Stonewall [the gay rights group] in response to an issue about having to name a “mother” and “father” on the passport application form.”
Gay couples are registered as the official parents of any child they adopt. Those who use surrogate mothers must apply to the courts for a “parental order” in order to be recognized as a child’s official parents.
Similar changes have been made in recent months to passport application forms in the U.S., outraging traditional family groups and religious conservatives.
British officials accepted that the move was made following lobbying from gay rights groups who claimed it was discriminatory.
A spokesman for the UK Identity and Passport Service insisted it was necessary to incorporate same-sex parents on the form so that accurate information is collected.
“IPS is planning to amend the application form and associated guidance to deal with same-sex parents applying for a passport on behalf of a child.
“Currently, the application form provides the relevant boxes of <<mother>> and <<father>> to be completed.
“The new form to be introduced by December 2011 will in addition provide for <<parent 1>> and <<parent 2>>.
“It is essential that any parent provides the necessary information on their status as parents or guardians when applying for a passport on behalf of their child.
“This protects the interests of the child and ensures that IPS is able to issue passports securely and safely to the right person.
“The passport application form is therefore being updated to incorporate same-sex parents.”
Gay lobbyists and politicians have long claimed that 10% of the population is homosexual, but figures from the Office for National Statistics in UK suggest that this is a wild exaggeration.
According to the Integrated Household Survey, homosexuals and bisexuals make up only 1.5% of the population.
1% said they were gay or lesbian, while 0.5% said they were bisexual.
More men than women declared themselves homosexual, with 1.3% of men saying they were gay compared with 0.6% of women who described themselves as lesbian.
94% said they were heterosexual, 4.3% declined to answer the question or said they did not know, and 0.4% said their sexuality was “other”.
A group of six British-born Muslims who allegedly planned to commit “mass murder” with suicide bombing missions against Britain appeared in court on Monday.
The six men, who prosecutors claimed had formed a terror cell, are accused of training in explosives, weapons and poisoning techniques during trips to Pakistan.
Some of the group members are accused of raising money for terrorism during collections on British streets.
The six men who are accused of training in explosives, weapons and poisoning techniques: from left, Mohammed Rizwan, Bahader Ali, Ifran Nasser, Rahin Ahmed, Ifran Khalid and Ashik Ali
The six defendants, who are all from Birmingham and aged from 25 to 32, were arrested a week ago by the West Midlands police counter-terrorism unit.
The six men, each wearing black jumpers and jogging bottoms, spoke only to confirm their names, ages and addresses at the hearing in West London Magistrates’ Court, Hammersmith.
Deborah Walsh, prosecuting, said: “The terrorist ideology behind these offences is to commit mass murder in the UK.”
Two of the group – Ifran Nasser, 30, and Ifran Khalid, 26 – have been charged with a string of offences dating from Christmas Day last year to September 19.
They are accused of planning a suicide-bombing campaign, making a martyrdom film, recruiting others for terrorist acts, collecting money for terrorism, travelling to Pakistan to learn how to make bombs, weapons and poisons, and advising others on explosives and how to build a home-made bomb.
Ashik Ali, 26, is accused of planning a suicide bombing, constructing a home-made bomb, recruiting others for terrorist training, collecting money for terrorism and stating his intention to be a suicide bomber.
His brother, university graduate Bahader Ali, 28, and Mohammed Rizwan, 32, are accused of failing to disclose information which could prevent terror attacks.
Rahin Ahmed, 25, is accused of helping to fund terrorism acts and assisting others to travel to Pakistan for training in terrorism.
All were remanded in custody. Ashik Ali, Rahin Ahmed, Khalid and Nasser Ifran will appear at the Old Bailey on October 21.
Bahader Ali and Mohammed Rizwan will appear before City of Westminster magistrates on October 24.