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"Fully driverless cars" on UK roads by 2021 says Philip Hammond

Chancellor announces plans for UK to be world-leader in the technology ahead of Wednesday's Budget...

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has said that “fully driverless cars” could be on Britain’s roads by 2021.

The former Transport Secretary outlined the plans on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, and said the government wanted the UK to be a world leader in the technology.

"Some would say that's a bold move, but we have to embrace these technologies if we want the UK to lead the next industrial revolution," Hammond said.

He added, however, that he had not tried out the technology himself, though he should do on a trip to the West Midlands on Monday.

Hammond is due to deliver his Budget on Wednesday and in the speech will announce plans to change rules to allow driverless cars to be tested on Britain’s roads.

The Chancellor’s comments come in a week in which Land Rover-Jaguar announced that it was testing driverless vehicles in Coventry, with a human occupant in the vehicle to take over should it be needed.

The government believes that the industry could be worth £28 billion by 2035 and employ 27,000 people in the UK.

This week, the charity Cycling UK called on the government to ensure that proposed changes to the law encompass potential criminal as well as civil liability.

> Planned laws for driverless vehicles fail to address criminal responsibility says Cycling UK

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns, told road.cc: "There may be long term safety benefits which accrue from a move to autonomous vehicles (AV), but Cycling UK is particularly concerned about the transitional period, when the roads are occupied by a mix of vehicles, some with driver assistance, some autonomous, and some with neither, and about the ability of AVs to detect cyclists and pedestrians.

[AdTech Ad] “The current Bill before parliament primarily seeks to deal with the issues of civil liability that arise with the transfer from human to autonomous control. It fails to deal with the criminal liability should someone use the technology inappropriately. The Government must consider criminal liability as part of the Bill.”

Earlier this month, an 80-year-old cyclist from County Durham was killed in a collision involving a Tesla car, which is capable of being operated in semi-autonomous ‘Autopilot’ mode.

> Durham cyclist may be world's first to die in collision with a Tesla – unclear if it was in Autopilot mode

While it is not known whether Autopilot was engaged at the time, as far as we are aware it is the first time a cyclist has been killed in a collision with a car equipped with such technology.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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21 comments

Avatar
Kapelmuur | 6 years ago
0 likes

I don't know why, but I'm reminded of Harold Wilson's "white hot heat of technology".

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hawkinspeter | 6 years ago
2 likes

Semi-autonomous vehicles are fundamentally flawed. You just can't expect a driver to pay 100% attention when the car is "driving itself" and there is going to be some adjustment time for when the driver takes back control.

Driver assistance makes more sense as the driver is at least paying usual attention to the road etc. and the car is just helping with some functions (e.g. braking).

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PaulBox | 6 years ago
1 like

My motor was in for repairs a couple of weeks ago (somebody dove in to the back of me). I was lent a new Volvo V90. Playing with the toys on journey home I came across autopilot. It is a fancy cruise control which adapts to the speed of the vehicle in front and the steering automatically adjusts to keep you in the lane. Basically you can be really lazy on the motorway.

At low speeds it was great, I commute on the M25 so always stop-start driving. my biggest fear once you got used to using it is that you would then be tempted to occumpy yourself with something else.

At high speeds it was feking terrifying! You set your max speed, say 70mph, then when the road clears it automatically goes up to that speed. When you see that the cars half a mile ahead are stopping and you are still doing 70, hoping like hell that your car is going to see them, it takes a special kind of bravery. First time I completely shat myself and nearly put myself through the windscreen, but I did get braver over the week that I had it and put myself in to the hands of the almight Volvo a few times at high speeds.

Unfortunately I didn't get the opportunity to see how it behave around bikes, wish I had made more of an effort now.

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kitsunegari | 6 years ago
2 likes

The thought of these semi-autonomous vehicles that require Drivers to respond in an emergency utterly terrifies me as a road user.

Given that I've been hit by someone on a mobile phone before, I dread to think what will happen given the inevitable "SMIDSY, I was halfway through Strictly catchup when I heard the bang".

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Morat replied to kitsunegari | 6 years ago
0 likes

kitsunegari wrote:

The thought of these semi-autonomous vehicles that require Drivers to respond in an emergency utterly terrifies me as a road user.

Given that I've been hit by someone on a mobile phone before, I dread to think what will happen given the inevitable "SMIDSY, I was halfway through Strictly catchup when I heard the bang".

I read that Google (at least) are moving away from that model because people are generally not able to take over without notice. Partly because they're probably reading, sleeping or applying makeup.

 

here you go: http://www.theweek.co.uk/driverless-cars/89391/google-s-waymo-successful...

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alansmurphy | 6 years ago
1 like

Or Brexit Helmets...

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maviczap | 6 years ago
1 like

We can't sort out decent mobile phone coverage, so driverless cars in 4 years? Yes, those will be the ones parked up unsold in the dealers car lots.

 

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flobble replied to maviczap | 6 years ago
1 like

maviczap wrote:

We can't sort out decent mobile phone coverage, so driverless cars in 4 years? Yes, those will be the ones parked up unsold in the dealers car lots.

Please explain how the concepts of "decent mobile phone coverage" and "[some] driverless cars" being on the roads" in 4 years are related?

 

The target is actually a spectacularly unambitious one. How can the UK "be a world leader in the technology" when there are already driverless cars on the roads in other parts of the world? The UK as a nation is at least a decade behind the leaders in this sector.

Avatar
alansmurphy replied to flobble | 6 years ago
0 likes

flobble wrote:

How can the UK "be a world leader in the technology" when there are already driverless cars on the roads in other parts of the world? The UK as a nation is at least a decade behind the leaders in this sector.

 

Is the answer Brexit?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or helmets?

 

 

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hawkinspeter replied to alansmurphy | 6 years ago
0 likes

alansmurphy wrote:

flobble wrote:

How can the UK "be a world leader in the technology" when there are already driverless cars on the roads in other parts of the world? The UK as a nation is at least a decade behind the leaders in this sector.

 

Is the answer Brexit?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or helmets?

 

 

Yes.

Avatar
davel | 6 years ago
6 likes

The will being there is genuinely great news.

The way will be a mess, as Dollimore says.

Personally, I'm really looking forward to recognising driverless cars, pulling out on them, and knowing they will just stop - as I'm sure every other road user is. For me, that would mean testing has been a success.

I think the manufacturers might have different success criteria, though - if they want to sell any, that is.

And I wonder what 'close pass threshold' they're currently building in at BMW and Audi...

Avatar
gmrza | 6 years ago
2 likes

One problem, as a cyclist is how to tell if the car has "seen you".  With human drivers it is possible to make eye contact - although I do work on the basis that when I can't make eye contact that the driver ahs not seen me, or is ignoring me.

We do need a way for driverless cars to inform pedestrians and cyclists that they have registered the presence of a pedestrian of a cyclist.

Avatar
Simboid replied to gmrza | 6 years ago
0 likes

gmrza wrote:

One problem, as a cyclist is how to tell if the car has "seen you".  With human drivers it is possible to make eye contact - although I do work on the basis that when I can't make eye contact that the driver ahs not seen me, or is ignoring me.

We do need a way for driverless cars to inform pedestrians and cyclists that they have registered the presence of a pedestrian of a cyclist.

Never thought about that but what a good idea. Take existing facial recognition technology and, for instance, make a little green LED come on when it has 'seen' a face looking at it. Not sure it would be any good for motorbikers in full helmets or me in winter with a face mask and mirrored shades though.

Avatar
ConcordeCX replied to Simboid | 6 years ago
1 like

Simboid wrote:

gmrza wrote:

One problem, as a cyclist is how to tell if the car has "seen you".  With human drivers it is possible to make eye contact - although I do work on the basis that when I can't make eye contact that the driver ahs not seen me, or is ignoring me.

We do need a way for driverless cars to inform pedestrians and cyclists that they have registered the presence of a pedestrian of a cyclist.

Never thought about that but what a good idea. Take existing facial recognition technology and, for instance, make a little green LED come on when it has 'seen' a face looking at it. Not sure it would be any good for motorbikers in full helmets or me in winter with a face mask and mirrored shades though.

it just needs to recognise a bicycle, not a face

Avatar
Yorkshie Whippet replied to gmrza | 6 years ago
1 like

gmrza wrote:

One problem, as a cyclist is how to tell if the car has "seen you".  With human drivers it is possible to make eye contact - although I do work on the basis that when I can't make eye contact that the driver ahs not seen me, or is ignoring me.

We do need a way for driverless cars to inform pedestrians and cyclists that they have registered the presence of a pedestrian of a cyclist.

How many road users are guilty of looking but not seeing anyway?

Avatar
ricardito replied to gmrza | 6 years ago
0 likes

gmrza wrote:

We do need a way for driverless cars to inform pedestrians and cyclists that they have registered the presence of a pedestrian of a cyclist.

Something like this, you mean? 

http://road.cc/content/tech-news/230598-trek-collaborate-software-compan...

Clearly such a system can only be of use if you're carrying one (motor vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians, dogs, cats...?) and it can only instigate avoiding action by autonomous vehicles. 

Lights blue touch paper and steps well back.

Avatar
ROOTminus1 replied to ricardito | 6 years ago
1 like

Quote:

The Chancellor’s comments come in a week in which Land Rover-Jaguar announced that it was testing driverless vehicles in Coventry, with a human occupant in the vehicle to take over should it be needed

That's a test and a half; Coventry has some *unique* tarmac layouts. Between the short slip roads on the ring road and the blank junctions around the city centre abundant with peds and cyclists, the AI will need some solid behavioural programming to be fully autonomous.

The design ethos for inside the ring road was to remove nearly all prompts for drivers, so they have to stop and make concious decisions which will be interesting to see how the vehicles perform. On a side note, I hope it's not related but the over-arching PSPO against cyclist usage within the city centre that was applied for last year seems to be rather coincidental with autonomous vehicles failing to recognise users on 2 wheels.

Avatar
alansmurphy | 6 years ago
2 likes

"Fully driverless cars on UK roads when they are proven to be safe" says Phillip Hammond...

No, thought not.

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colin2012 | 6 years ago
1 like

Is there going to be a 'driving test' for driverless cars, how do we know the technology used by any particular company is robust.

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Yorkshire wallet | 6 years ago
8 likes

The people that need to use it the most will be the last to do so. 

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Rich_cb | 6 years ago
2 likes

Great news.

I genuinely can't wait for all cars to go driverless.

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