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First they snubbed the driver, now the borders — autonomous cars were given an international road test on Wednesday at a new centre in the symbolically significant town of Schengen in Luxembourg.

The joint venture sponsored by the French, German and Luxembourg governments means that driverless cars can be tested in real-life scenarios including motorways and urban spaces across borders.

Schengen, which gave its name to the European Union’s border-free Schengen Zone, is located in far southeast Luxembourg, on the fringes of the Grand Est region of France and the German region of Sarre.

Surveys demonstrate that people are suspicious of driverless vehicles, which “talk” with other cars and their surroundings, believing them to be more dangerous than traditional versions. 

French Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne, who attended the launch along with her German and Luxembourg counterparts, said that testing was a key way to alleviate such concerns and that such smart vehicles had a key place in future mobility.

“I think the challenge posed by the acceptability (of the technology) shouldn’t be underestimated. When we do polling the results warn us that two thirds of people are wary of the development of autonomous vehicles which shows that it’s not a given, they need to prove themselves through demonstrations and testing of what these vehicles will be able to do. And what we see is in areas where we’ve done these tests, areas where there are autonomous shuttle services without a driver, for example, their position on the acceptability of these vehicles changes,” she said.


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