Self-driving cars: UK motorways change triggers AA warning amid new government plans

The Government has unveiled new plans that say self-driving vehicles could be on Britain’s roads “by 2025” and they are being backed by a £100million investment to speed up their roll-out.

highways could even see some cars, buses and trucks with self-driving capabilities next year, the government said.

The Department for Transport said the self-driving industry could create up to 38,000 jobs and be worth £42billion.

The plans envisage new legislation being introduced to allow for the safe, wider roll-out of self-driving vehicles by 2025 – backed by £34m research to help safety developments and inform new legislation.

A further £20m will be used to support the roll-out of commercial self-driving services – building on an existing £40m investment – and a further £6m will be used for market research and to support the commercialization of the technology.

Self-driving and autonomous vehicle technology has been in development for a number of years, with dozens of companies working on and testing vehicles around the world – some already on public roads.

The government said the introduction of the technology could revolutionize public transport, particularly for those who don’t drive, and help reduce road collisions caused by human error.

It said vehicles capable of driving themselves on motorways could hit the market within the next year, but these would require a valid driver’s license for the user to drive the vehicle on others streets.

Other self-driving vehicles, such as those used for public transport of supplies and which the government wants to see on the roads by 2025, would be used without a license as they would be fully autonomous.

“The benefits of self-driving vehicles have enormous potential. Not only can they improve people’s access to education and other essential services, but the industry itself can create tens of thousands of job opportunities across the country,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

“Most importantly, they aim to make our roads safer by reducing the chances of driver error in road collisions.

The Argus: Grant Shapps said self-driving vehicles could help make roads safer (Peter Byrne/PA)Grant Shapps said self-driving vehicles could help make roads safer (Peter Byrne/PA)

“We want the UK to be at the forefront of the development and use of this fantastic technology and that is why we are investing millions in important safety research and legislating to ensure we take full advantage of this technology.”

The Government said it is now consulting on the safety surrounding self-driving technology and plans to enact new legislation around existing laws, and would state that manufacturers are responsible for a vehicle’s actions when self-driving is active – meaning that a human driver would not be liable in incidents where self-driving was active.

In response to the new plans, the AA has warned government ministers to consider potential security concerns road users.

AA President Edmund King said: “The automotive world is changing rapidly and it is right that the Government welcomes the positive changes this new technology offers and supports it by funding research and introducing legislation.

“Assisted driving systems, such as autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, are already helping millions of drivers stay on the road safely.

“It’s still a pretty big leap from assisted driving, where the driver is still in control, to autonomous driving, where the car takes control.

“It is important for the government to study how these vehicles would interact with other road users on different roads and in changing weather conditions.

“But the ultimate prize, in the form of saving thousands of lives and improving mobility for the elderly and less mobile, is worth pursuing.” Self-driving cars: UK motorways change triggers AA warning amid new government plans

Fry Electronics Team

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