Driverless cars allowed on Britain’s roads by 2021

By Ryan Hirons
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Driverless cars allowed on Britain’s roads by 2021

Chancellor Phillip Hammond announced the UK will allow autonomous vehicles to test on roads without any human operation

Driverless cars will be able to test on UK roads by 2021 without human interference, in an effort to position Britain as a leader in autonomous technology.

The Government has announced that autonomous vehicles will be allowed on British roads without any human input inside or outside of the car.

The decision has been made to allow Britain to become a world leader in developing autonomous technology, as chancellor Philip Hammond believes the industry could be worth £28bn by 2035 while supporting 27,000 jobs.

During his Autumn 2017 budget speech, he said: “There’s perhaps no technology as symbolic for the revolution gathering pace around us as driverless cars.”

However, the chancellor gave no clues as to how this will be achieved.

The first UK trial of autonomous vehicles took place during 2016 in Milton Keynes, when a Lutz Pathfinder driverless vehicle covered a 1.25-mile route along pathways.

Recently, British-based Jaguar Land Rover has trialled driverless vehicles in Coventry — the first time the technology has been used on open, public roads.

Charlie Henderson, roads expert at PA Consulting Group, said: “For self-driving vehicles to work effectively more must be done. While the government should be applauded for its drive to develop autonomous technologies, any notion that autonomous vehicles are about to become a regular part of everyday life is ambitious.

“The reality is that AVs are not going to be a common sight on the roads any time soon.

“We can’t get the roads in shape without a huge investment. Manufacturers are designing AVs on the assumption that roads are in good condition – with clear lane markings, unobscured signs and signals, and good quality surfaces. But we all know that’s not the reality. We have a hugely diverse infrastructure with much of our road network.”

Graeme Smith, CEO of autonomous technology company Oxbotica, said: “Following our meeting with the Prime Minister and Chancellor last week, it is good to see the UK technology sector being encouraged to accelerate development of a technology that will undoubtedly change society.

“Government support here has the potential to be repaid many times over as well, in terms of new, high-skilled jobs, enormous export potential, and improved productivity. By announcing these new measures and getting behind the drive towards autonomy, the UK government is showing it is not afraid of what the future holds, and that it wants to see Britain leading us into it.”

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