Could we see self-driving vehicles on the road in the UK by the end of 2019? It is increasingly looking like this may well be the case. It has been revealed on 6th February 2019 that the Department for Transport is setting up plans to implemented advanced trials of self-driving cars. The aim is that by 2021, fully autonomous will be properly on the roads. It has been viewed as a strong indication of support for the UK automotive and technology industries, which could be particularly important in the years to come if the UK does not strike a deal with the EU when it comes to Brexit. Fleets Insurance takes a further look.
What is a self-driving car?
In many ways, it is self-explanatory, but driverless car means that they are completely autonomous, meaning that they do not require a steering wheel, nor a driver, in order to be able to get to their destination.
Britain at the forefront of self-driving technology?
One of the aims of getting driverless cars on the roads in the next couple of years is because of the governments aims to make the UK at the very centre of self-driving technology as part of the UK government’s Industrial Strategy. The new plans could be a huge boost to a sector needing investment, with the UK’s market for connected and automated vehicles estimated to reach a staggering £52 billion by 2035.
Speaking more about the plans for 2019 and having driverless cars on public roads by 2021, the Automotive Minister, Richard Harrington, in a government stated released earlier this week said:
“The UK has a rich heritage in automotive development and manufacturing, with automated and electric vehicles set to transform the way we all live our lives.
We want to ensure through the Industrial Strategy Future of Mobility Grand Challenge that we build on this success and strength to ensure we are home to the development and manufacture of the next generation of vehicles.”
How will self-driving cars be tested?
When it comes to the advanced trials that will be taking place this year, there will be strict regulations in place that driverless vehicles will have to be compliant with. The government has stated that the code of practice for testing these driverless cars will be increased, to make sure that these tests are carried out in a safe and responsible way. This code of practice was initially issued back in 2015, with the regulation stating that driverless car trials are able to take place on any UK road, but need to meet UK regulations. That means that trials will not be supported “unless they have passed rigorous safety assessments”. These tests cannot also be carried out if there is not a remote driver present.
Furthermore, it has been stated in the latest code of practice that it will be necessary for companies to notify relevant authorities, emergency services as well as anyone else who could end up being affected by trials involving autonomous cars.
Speaking further about these exciting new developments and the latest code of practice that has been introduced, Harrington went on to say that:
“We need to ensure we take the public with us as we move towards having self-driving cars on our roads by 2021. The update to the code of practice will provide clearer guidance to those looking to carry out trials on public roads.”