Expert casts doubt on Grayling's 2021 vision for driverless cars


A leading expert in autonomous vehicles has described Chris Grayling’s target of seeing self-driving cars on British roads by 2021 as ‘very, very optimistic’ and suggested that it might take at least another decade.

Last week, the transport secretary said he expects the first self-driving cars to reach the market and to be used on UK roads by 2021, adding that ‘the Government is already taking steps to make this happen and consulting with industry partners for their views’.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling

However, at an industry event David Oliver, global expert, government and enforcement at PA Consulting, described this as a ‘classically optimistic government position’. He said: ‘I think 2021 is definitely a very, very optimistic viewpoint.’

Mr Oliver added: ‘It’s a massively complicated system with loads and loads of different players, who have all got to come together to make this system work, for autonomous vehicles to be a success. That interconnectedness and that detail is really the key thing.’

PA Consulting has published research Autonomous Vehicle: What are the roadblocks?, based on the views of a panel of experts. The report assesses that: ‘No country is likely to have fully driverless cars until 2030.’

It states: ‘Overall, we estimate driverless cars are more than 10 years away from regular use on UK roads. But our panel’s estimates ranged from just three years to 20 years.’

The research assesses progress on issues such as technology, regulation and law, and insurance. It states: ‘Technology is among the capabilities furthest from being able to support autonomous journeys. On average, our experts say its 13 years away. The most pessimistic outlook says it’s as long as 30 years off.’

Mr Oliver said: ‘We’ve gone through quite a robust process to come up with this data really that’s why we are confident that next year or the year after isn’t the answer but probably something more like 10 years is.’

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