Self-Driving Vehicles May be on UK Roads Next Year

Self-Driving Vehicles May be on UK Roads Next Year


The UK government has unveiled plans to promote self-driving vehicles to improve safety on its roads and give the economy a boost.

The government’s plan to encourage self-driving vehicles will be supported by £100 million of ne funding. A third of that funding will be available immediately and allocated for research to support safety developments and provide detailed legislation. £20 million of the funding will be used to help kick-start commercial self-driving services and enable businesses to grow and create UK jobs. The £20 million funding follows an existing £40 million investment in the same area. The government estimates that 38,000 new jobs could be created in the country from a predicted £42 billion industry.

Some vehicles with self-driving features could be operating on UK motorways in the next year, and the new plans set out new legislation that will allow for the safe wider rollout of autonomous vehicles by 2025. Self-driving vehicles could revolutionise public transport and passenger travel, especially for those who don’t drive, better connect rural communities and reduce road collisions caused by human error. Further in the future, they could provide tailored on-demand links from rural towns and villages to existing public transport options nearby.

The vehicles that will be able to drive autonomously on motorways could be available to purchase within the next year. Users would need a valid driving licence for the vehicles to be able to drive them on other roads. Other self-driving vehicles, expected on the roads by 2025, would not need a driving licence as they would be able to drive autonomously for the whole journey.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said, “The benefits of self-driving vehicles have the potential to be huge. Not only can they improve people’s access to education and other vital services, but the industry itself can create tens of thousands of job opportunities throughout the country. Most importantly, they’re expected to make our roads safer by reducing the dangers of driver error in road collisions. The government is today consulting on a ‘safety ambition’ for self-driving vehicles to be as safe as a competent and careful human driver. This ambition would inform standards that vehicles need to meet to be allowed to ‘self-drive’ on the roads, and organisations, such as manufacturers, could face sanctions if standards are not met.”

The new laws for the safe rollout of self-driving vehicles by 2025 will be brought forward when parliamentary time allows. The legislation will build on existing laws, and state that manufacturers are responsible for the vehicle’s actions when self-driving, meaning a human driver would not be liable for incidents related to driving while the vehicle is in control of driving.

A publication of the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation’s (CDEI) Responsible Innovation in Self-Driving Vehicles report, which sets out proposals for a trustworthy approach to the regulation and governance of self-driving vehicles has also been published.