Driverless vehicles might be on UK roads in two years, Transport Secretary says

Self-driving vehicles might be used within the UK from 2026, based on Transport Secretary Mark Harper.

The Cabinet minister mentioned the know-how, which permits drivers not to focus on the street, has “a huge number of potential uses” together with boosting street security and making it simpler for disabled folks to journey independently. He mentioned it means folks might be to journey in self-driving automobiles “with your hands off the wheel, doing your emails”.

The Automated Vehicles Bill to create a set of legal guidelines for utilizing autonomous automobiles was launched into Parliament final month.

Mr Harper advised BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The legislation is going through Parliament at the moment so hopefully we’ll get that through Parliament by the end of 2024. Probably by as early as 2026, people will start seeing some elements of these cars that have full self-driving capabilities being rolled out.

“We already know the technology works. You can see the technology being rolled out with a safety driver in place. I’ve seen the technology being used in California for example, without a safety driver, so in full, autonomous mode. This technology exists, it works and what we’re doing is putting in place the proper legislation so that people can have full confidence in the safety of this technology, which I think is one of the important things we’ve got to do.”

Asked if folks will have the ability to journey in self-driving automobiles “with your hands off the wheel, doing your emails” in 2026, Mr Harper replied: “Yes, and I think that’s when companies are expecting – in 2026, during that year – that we’ll start seeing this technology rolled out.”

Responding to a query by former Top Gear presenter James May – who was Today’s visitor editor – about why the Government is supporting the event of autonomous driving, Mr Harper claimed there are “a few” causes.

He mentioned: “I think it will actually improve road safety. We already have a very good road safety record in Britain but there are still several thousand people a year killed on our roads. That could be improved.

“It’s a big economic opportunity for Britain to get what will be a big global share of market. The final thing is, there are a lot of people who currently don’t have the opportunity to get the freedom that many of us drivers take for granted.

“For example, there are people who have disabilities, people with learning disabilities, who don’t have the same freedom that driving brings the rest of us. This potentially opens up a whole new world for personal freedom, getting to work, having the ability to not have to rely on other people.”