Portsmouth’s bid for superfast broadband could make city a UK trailblazer for driverless cars

Self-driving cars are not as futuristic as you might think...
Self-driving cars are not as futuristic as you might think...
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FUTURISTIC plans are in the works which will pave the way for hi-tech driverless cars to navigate the streets of Portsmouth, The News can reveal.

Ambitious multi-million pound proposals are being mapped out by Portsmouth City Council for a major overhaul of the island’s road network.

Transport bosses hope to create a new ‘smart city’ transport network across Portsmouth – one of the first of its kind in the UK.

It would see a state-of-the-art web of sensors which would be able to beam information about traffic snarl-ups straight into the navigation systems of future cars, allowing them to re-route autonomously.

The tech is being touted as a key forerunner opening the doors for future fleets of self-driving vehicles to navigate safely through the city.

And as part of this proposal, the council is also bidding to become one of the first cities in the UK to secure a new ultra-fast internet link and 5G network.

If successful, the bid would see fibre cables installed across the island, giving businesses and residents unprecedented internet speeds of up to one gigabyte per second.

Currently, top-end speeds are less than a tenth of this, with the most premium deals offering speeds of up to 76mbps.

If the government backs Portsmouth’s bid, it would mean residents would eventually be able to take advantage of the new link, downloading entire films in seconds.

Tory council boss, Councillor Donna Jones says the plan will boost the city’s prospects.

She said: ‘The growth the city could have if we secure this bid would be very significant indeed.’

The government’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is offering £190m which will be split across a handful of councils in the hope of driving up internet speeds.

For months officers at the council have been battling for Portsmouth to stake a claim of the lion’s share of the cash.

Greg Povey, assistant director contracts, commercial, IT and procurement at the council, said he won’t know if the city’s bid has been successful for a few weeks.

But if it is, he said: ‘We’ll get businesses locating here because of this technology. It’ll give the city a competitive edge.

‘It’s essential that we get this technology otherwise they will locate elsewhere.’

As previously reported, work has already begun on the city’s new smart roads, which has seen £250,000 pumped into a new traffic management centre and £1.1m to improve signalling and signage.