A consultation has been launched by the Government as it looks to continue its push to help Britain lead the way in developing driverless technology.
Published today (11 July), the public consultation centres around two key areas: updating the Highway Code and changing insurance laws.
The Government says the consultation, which remains open for nine weeks, will be the start of a ‘rolling programme of reform on the roadmap to fully automated vehicles’.
According to roads minister Andrew Jones, driverless cars are the future, and not science fiction. The Queen’s Speech in May 2016 included a modern transport bill which encourages investment in driverless and electric cars, and ensures that insurance will be available to users of driverless vehicles.
The UK Government is expecting the development of driverless cars to play a vital role in the country’s economic future and as a result, has repeatedly expressed its desire to take a world lead in the area. It predicts that cars with advanced driver assistance features, such as remote control parking and motorway assist, will be on sale in Britain within four years, with automated and driverless vehicles expected from the mid-2020s onwards.
With the UK’s first public autonomous vehicle trials set to get underway later this year, the consultation will focus on changing the Highway Code to support the safe use of remote control parking and motorway assist features. It will also seek views on changing insurance laws so that motorists who have handed control to their ‘self-driving’ cars can be insured properly.
Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, said: “Driverless car technology will revolutionise the way we travel and deliver better journeys.
“Britain is leading the way but I want everyone to have the chance to have a say on how we embrace and use these technologies.
“Our roads are already some of the safest in the world and increasing advanced driver assist and driverless technologies have the potential to help cut the number of accidents further.”
Separately, the government will next month launch a competition for a further £30m from the Intelligent Mobility Fund, for research and development of innovative connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.
Sajid Javid, business secretary, said: “Britain’s auto industry has always been at the forefront of innovation and research.
“This additional £30m of funding for research and development (R&D) is a further sign of our commitment to making sure we’re creating opportunities for UK businesses to thrive and attract global investment in world-class technology.”