The government is to rewrite legislation in a bid to ensure the UK becomes a world leader in driverless technology. Changes will be made to the Highway Code and MOT test guidelines with a new code of practice due within the next few months - as we reported earlier today trial of driverless vehicles will get underway in London soon.
Transport Minister, Claire Perry, explained why the government was so keen to embrace driverless technology.
“Driverless cars are the future. I want Britain to be at the forefront of this exciting new development, to embrace a technology that could transform our roads and open up a brand new route for global investment.”
One of the major issues will be to establish who would be responsible in the event of a collision and the BBC reports that a higher standard of driving may be demanded of automated vehicles.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, emphasised how important it was to get the regulation right.
"Alongside the hi-tech innovation you need policy decisions on long-term, low-tech matters such as who takes responsibility if things go wrong. As and when these vehicles become commonplace, there is likely to be a shift from personal to product liability and that is a whole new ball game for insurers and manufacturers."
A Department for Transport review carried out over the past six months looked at the best and safest ways to trial automated vehicles where an individual is able to take control of the car if necessary and also looked at the implications for testing fully automated vehicles.
Both Perry and Business Secretary, Vince Cable, will attend the first official trials of the fully autonomous Meridian shuttle in Greenwich. There they will also unveil a prototype of a driverless pod which is to be tested in public areas in Milton Keynes once the new code of practice has been established.
Cable said that driverless cars were likely to represent a sizeable industry in coming years.
“It’s important for jobs, growth and society that we keep at the forefront of innovation, that’s why I launched a competition to research and develop driverless cars. The projects we are now funding in Greenwich, Bristol, Milton Keynes and Coventry will help to ensure we are world-leaders in this field and able to benefit from what is expected to be a £900 billion industry by 2025.”