A leading cycling charity has expressed concerns over the ‘rushed’ introduction of autonomous vehicles, instead calling for a ‘staged’ approach based on Vision Zero.
Trials of self-driving vehicles – without a steering wheel or human in control – could take place on UK roads later this year, under plans recently unveiled by the Government.
The code of practice for testing the technology is in the process of being updated, with the Government on track to meet its commitment to have fully self-driving vehicles on UK roads by 2021.
Cycling UK says that while driverless technology has enormous potential to make roads much safer – its introduction, if rushed and done incorrectly, could ‘end up doing great harm’.
Roger Geffen MBE, Cycling UK’s policy director, said: “The Government needs to proceed with extreme caution if it plans to allow driverless vehicles on our roads.”
Cycling UK believes the introduction of autonomous vehicles should be ‘staged’ to ensure, in line with Vision Zero, that no deaths or serious injuries are caused by the technology.
The charity says autonomous vehicles should first be tested on closed tracks, before progressing to motorways and trunk roads ‘with high-quality separated cycle tracks’.
Cycling UK also says that autonomous cars should be designed in such a way that they will never have to make a choice as whether to save their passenger or collide with a cyclist or other road user.
The charity says if testing is done correctly, autonomous vehicles will have the ability to identify any potential danger long before it appears – and take appropriate action.
Sam Jones, Cycling UK’s senior campaigns and communications officer, said: “Autonomous vehicles could be placed in a situation where they have make a choice such as whether to save their passenger or hit another road user such as someone cycling.
“How can a machine make this decision?”