Select Page

Driverless cars could be in full use on Britain’s roads by 2021, the government announced on Wednesday.

The new technology is a step closer after UK ministers announced plans to move forward on advanced trials for automated vehicles. A statement issued by the Department for Transport (DfT) says that the UK is “on track to meet its commitment to have fully self-driving vehicles on UK roads by 2021.”

Plans to strengthen the code of practice for testing automated safely have also been outlined. The new regulations seek to ensure that anyone trialling driverless cars must publish safety information, trial performance reports and carry out risk assessments. They will also be required to inform the relevant authorities and emergency services.

The DfT described its announcement as a “major boost” to the UK’s market for connected and automated vehicles, which it estimates will be worth £52 billion ($67 billion) by 2035.

Transport Minister Jesse Norman said in a statement: “Thanks to the UK’s world class research base, this country is in the vanguard of the development of new transport technologies, including automation.

“The government is supporting the safe, transparent trialling of this pioneering technology, which could transform the way we travel.”

Expert skepticism

Yet any suggestion that driverless cars will soon be common place on British roads has been met with skepticism from some experts.

PA Consulting, a global innovation and transformation consultancy, has conducted extensive research on the viability of driverless cars.

Charlie Henderson, roads expert at the company, was lead author of a 2018 report, Autonomous vehicles: What are the roadblocks? He told CNN that while the research focused on Britain “the issues are relevant to all geographies.”

Henderson added: “To get autonomous vehicles working on the roads relies on six or seven factors, of which technology is one.” Read more