A series of governmental initiatives are underway to prepare the UK for full adoption of autonomous cars by 2021.
In a play to introduce Britain as an emerging world leader in the autonomous space, chancellor Philip Hammond, the UK government’s chief financial minister, proposed a $266 million (£200 million) plan to expedite the development of autonomous technology.
First introduced in the House of Commons on Oct. 18, the plan is called the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill. Adding to the funds is a contribution of $532 million (£400 million) by the private sector. Pledges of £5 million and £100 million will work towards an electric battery purchase program and a test trial for 5G deployment on UK roads, respectively.
“A concerted effort to turn the UK into a world leader in autonomous vehicle technology, which forms a key part of the Chancellor’s pledge to bolster UK technology more broadly, is absolutely the right thing to do – as is clarifying regulations around how driverless cars can be road tested,” said David Williams, AXA technical director. “The UK is at the forefront of a transport revolution that will save lives and offer mobility solutions to those unable to drive.”
Outside of funding, other chapters in the Automated and Electric Vehicles bill focus on regulations. Specifically, the liability of insurers and role of manufacturers in self-driving collisions, proposed legislation for electric vehicle infrastructure, ‘smart’ capabilities for charge points, and other topics of interest. A separate initiative by the National Infrastructure Commission will offer a prize to a firm who can solve the challenge of roadbuilding for self-driving cars.
The UK’s standing in autonomous vehicle development has been progressing steadily over the past year. In a June parliament session, the UK government gave the green light to launch public road trials without permission, as long as projects are covered by insurance. Also, car manufacturers such as Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover have started autonomous driving trials of up to 100 self-driving cars in Milton Keynes and Coventry.
Other efforts have focused on policy setting, such as changes to insurance laws, redrafted regulations for remote control parking, and revisions to the Highway Code.
If all goes well, look for the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill to pass through Parliament sometime in 2018. To view the bill in its entirety, visit Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill