Test your self-driving cars with us, says Latvia

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Latvia to set up international test environment for self-driving cars and a special legislative regime

Mobile operator Latvijas Mobilais Telefons (LMT) is setting up a test track for self-driving cars.

The move is part of a government-backed project to encourage the development of 5G mobile technology for autonomous cars in the country.

Arvils Ašeradens, the Latvian deputy prime minister and minister for economics, said: “The government is actively supporting the efforts of businesses to invest in innovations and cutting-edge solutions” by further improving the country’s already attractive legislative framework for startups, research and development.

LMT, which is working with the Riga High Technology University, will also provide a communications infrastructure for the trial tests, and is developing a next-generation 5G network to meet the requirements of self-driving cars.

The company said that entrepreneurs, researchers and the government are joining forces to make the Baltic country a research and development platform for self-driving car technology

Minister for Transport Uldis Augulis said: “We are continuing to develop self-driving car technology in a targeted manner.”

Several projects – including the construction of an international test track for self-driving vehicles – are already being implemented, and the government plans to upgrade the country’s legislation to facilitate innovations in the field.

These developments, along with Latvia’s advanced infrastructure, make the country an attractive location for researching and testing self-driving cars. Latvia’s European continental climate, for its part, allows the latest solutions to be tested in all types of weather conditions, including winter ice and snow.

“We have already conducted the first successful tests for self-driving autopilot technology,” said Ingars Ribners, a leading Latvian research scientist.

Initial tests on the special track will be followed by the passing of additional legislation to allow self-driving car tests on Latvia’s roads, and by the adaption of the country’s road infrastructure to suit the needs of self-driven vehicles.

“These initiatives will give the country a great case study to present to the International Transport Forum,” he added.