The Queens Speech has paved the way for autonomous cars to make a regular appearance on UK roads after it was mentioned that they are to be insured under ordinary polices.
In order to keep the UK “at the forefront of technology for new forms of transport” the plans form part of the new Modern Transport Bill that include autonomous and electric vehicles.
The aim, according to the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), it to improve road safety and reduce congestion, which they believe this decision would lead to.
Hugh Boyes, the IET’s cyber security expert, believes that the UK have the research and development in order to fulfil the potential for driverless vehicles to transform the UK’s transport network.
However Boyes warns that with this, it is also vital that cyber security is carefully considered: “It is not just about the threat of a car being hacked, it also relates to the overall security of the vehicle’s operation.”
He goes on to say: “For that reason it will be crucial that the Government introduces proper regulations for autonomous vehicles, which should include the need for a software MoT to be performed on a regular basis. This should help assure the ongoing trustworthiness of the vehicle software and systems”.
Driverless cars are scheduled to be tested on UK roads early next year, with the new legislation coming into affect by 2020. By having autonomous vehicles insured under ordinary policies it will enable the public to be able to drive them outside controlled test conditions meaning that we could see a huge increase of these cars on the road.
James Dalton, ABI director of general insurance policy, states: “Fully automated vehicles will be a safety revolution, even more so than the invention of the seatbelt. More than 90% of road accidents happen because of human error and automated technology will take a lot of the risk off the roads. Fewer accidents mean fewer people killed and injured, and that should lead to cheaper insurance premiums.”
Chancellor George Osborne thinks that the Government are keen to start testing the cars as early as possible, seeing huge potential in autonomous vehicles. Tests starting as early 2017 will focus on small local roads to begin with, with the plan to eventually extend to motorways.
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