The Government has revealed the wide-ranging action it is taking to support driverless cars, including international negotiations on regulations, behavioural tests on road users and new guidelines on legal responsibilities.
With autonomous vehicle trials already underway in four UK cities, the Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed it is undertaking cross-government working to ‘join-up’ policies that will deliver the maximum safety and economic benefits of driverless technologies.
It has also started negotiations with other countries to update international approval regulations for driverless cars, following its own The Pathway to Driverless Cars review, which sets out a clear timeline committing to updating UK regulations.
Responding to a range of recommendations from the transport select committee, the DfT has said it is currently commissioning research into how driverless vehicles will affect all road users and is encouraging technology testing.
Analysis is also being finalised on how data from connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) can be harnessed, particularly surrounding how telematics products can improve safety for new drivers.
The Government said it was taking ‘a pro-active approach’ to reviewing and updating ‘all relevant areas of legislation’ to ‘keep up’ with technological change on the road. International negotiations on updating regulations surrounding driverless vehicles are also said to be underway.
Action is also being taken to address how legal responsibilities will be apportioned as new technology hits the road.
Government departments are working alongside vehicle manufacturers, equipment suppliers and the insurance industry to address the ‘transition period’ where autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles will need to safely interact with traditional vehicles on UK roads.
In its written response to the transport committee, the DfT said: ‘We are already regarded as one of the leading countries in the CAV field and we want to maintain this position. As we have stated previously, our ambition is to make the UK a world leader in CAV research, development, demonstration, and deployment.
'CAVs are expected to help deliver a number of important government policy objectives - from improving mobility and road safety to contributing to reducing congestion, and importantly, they deliver industrial benefits too.’