Boost For Self-Driving Cars

Tue 23rd Aug 2022

The British government is set to invest £100m in a project which will see self-driving vehicles deployed on UK roads by 2025.

Cars, buses, and trucks with self-driving features may be on highways as soon as next year, and current proposals outline new regulations that will permit wider adoption of self-driving vehicles by 2025.

According to the UK government, taking full advantage of the emerging market for self-driving vehicles could create up to 38,000 jobs and be worth as much as £42m.

A total of £34 million has been earmarked for research to support safety developments and inform more detailed legislation, as part of the government's vision for self-driving vehicles. This research is expected to study how self-driving cars perform in poor weather conditions and how they interact with pedestrians, other vehicles, and cyclists.

The government has declared that £20m of the investment will be used to help self-driving commercial services get off the ground and enable businesses to grow and create jobs in the UK, following an existing investment of £40m.

Self-driving vehicles could revolutionise public transport and passenger travel, particularly for those who don't drive, by connecting rural communities and reducing road accidents caused by human error, according to the government.

They could, for example, provide on-demand links from rural towns and villages to existing public transportation options nearby in the future.

They could provide more direct and timely services that enable people to better access vital services such as schools and medical appointments.

The announcement has been met with some caution, however one of Europe’s leading road safety organisations has welcomed the move.

“Ensuring that safe adoption is at the centre of its plans will play a pivotal role in realising the societal benefits of self-driving technology,” said Jonathan Hewett, Chief Executive of Thatcham Research.

“The cars we drive are changing at an unprecedented rate. But the automotive industry is still at the lower end of a steep learning curve. It’s vital that we balance the risk with the opportunity, gathering intelligence on the different use cases for the technology and in turn understanding what it means for all road users.”