Self driving cars to be on UK roads by 2021, as promised

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In November 2017, the UK Government stated that it expected self-driving cars to be on our roads by 2021. The Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, said the prospect of the autonomous vehicles on our roads was “tremendously exciting.”

It could be expected that his original prediction of 2021 was unrealistic. However, there has been great progress in the self-driving car industry that could make this a reality. While those working with the vehicles aren’t expecting them to be widely used, there will be a small number of self-driving cars on the roads by this date.

Concerns over self-driving cars

There are three main challenges to self-driving cars being in wide use by 2021. These barriers are from the insurance industry, public perception and environmental regulators. Two of these can only be dealt with via testing of the vehicles. This is being done at several sites across the UK, and so far it is going well.

Pod manufacturer, Aurrigo, is one of the leading developers of self-driving cars and demonstrated their Pod Zero vehicle at a Las Vegas Convention Centre. The voice-controlled vehicle is controlled by two simple commands, the first is by activating the recognition with “Hello Watson” and then stating the desired location.

The final barrier, the perception of users, is going to be harder to overcome. Technology firms know that uptake will only depend on the perception of safety. Will driverless cars reduce accidents and deaths on the roads? Experts state this is going to happen, but people cannot expect there to be no deaths on the roads at all.

The UK market is better placed for self driving cars

Experts don’t believe customers will be buying self-driving cars. They’ll be too expensive. The cars are more likely to be used by firms like Uber and public transport providers first with others available as a service.

But the UK is in a good place to take advantage of the new tech cars, especially in comparison to other modern economies like the US. The UK has a much more collaborative set of programmes between tech companies and across neighbouring countries. While the UK is spending less money than the US, it is more targeted with companies and the government joining forces to develop plans for the use of self-driving technology.

The advantage of this is that the UK is expected to have a better and more deployable system for self-driving cars by 2021 than other nations. It isn’t just the cars that need to be designed and built, the infrastructure also needs to be developed. This is where Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, states the UK is really delivering.

If the Government and organisations are all to continue their co-operation, then self-driving cars will be on our roads in 2021 and a regular sight by 2030.

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