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Driverless cars could be on UK streets by the end of 2019

Eleanor Newis
Feb 7, 2019



Fully driverless cars might be tested on public roads in Britain by the end of 2019.

The trials are thought to be the first time that a self-driving car has been tested in the UK without a human supervisor present.

Government guidelines ask that a safety driver be on hand in case the technology malfunctions. However, there are now proposals to drop this need for a human presence, and they are expected to get the green light from the Department of Transport.

Highway officials stated that this will mean Britain is at the cutting edge of the world of technology, but some people think that the artificial intelligence in these vehicles is far from being ready.

The Government has said that after they have done the tests without a human present, they hope that commercial driverless cars will be on Britain’s roads by 2021. Officials think that the market will be worth £52billion to Britain before 2035.

Critics however think that it will be dangerous for driverless cars to be on the road if it is too soon.

In March 2018, a 49-year-old pedestrian from Tampa, Arizona was killed by a driverless Uber vehicle, even though this car had a human supervisor onboard.

Initial tests of driverless cars without humans inside them have taken place in the United States but the UK will be the first country to do this in Europe.

Jesse Norman, the Future of Mobility Minister, said: ‘Thanks to the UK’s world-class research base, this country is in the vanguard of the development of new transport technologies, including automation.

‘The Government is supporting safe, transparent trialling of this pioneering technology, which could transform the way we travel.’

So far, around 12 trials have taken place in the UK. This has happened over the last four years in city areas, including Bristol, Greenwich in South London and Milton Keynes.

Transport experts however think that driverless cars will be delayed because of public mistrust in the vehicles. The London-based PA Consulting has said that fully drivers cars won’t actually be on roads in the UK until the late 2020s because of this.

As a way of easing the public’s minds about driverless cars, the Government is planning to update the code of practice that was first introduced for driverless cars in 2015.

Richard Harrington, automotive minister, said: ‘We need to ensure we take the public with us as we move towards having self-driving cars on our roads by 2021. The update to the code of practice will provide clearer guidance to those looking to carry out trials on public roads.’

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