The government has essentially advertised the country as being the hub for testing and deploying automatic or driverless cars, and they have set about discussing the introduction of new laws that would help to ensure the safety of all road users. One of the potential stumbling blocks could be determining who would be the driver, or operator, of the car, although this could be countered by requiring that the driver seat be occupied by a main driver at all times.
Driverless cars have caused a stir. Companies like Google have developed their own technology that would see automated cars patrolling our streets in a system reminiscent of Johnny Cabs in Total Recall. The government has thrown its weight behind their use, their development, and their deployment in the UK not only because of the attraction of becoming the main market but also because driverless cars have the potential to help reduce CO2 emissions and could also help to make roads safer for all road users.
The government is currently discussing the laws that would need to be introduced in order to ensure the safety of all drivers. Such laws would mean that the main user of the vehicle, or the driver, would need to be sober and able to take complete control of the vehicle at any point.
A number of pilot or test schemes have been set up across the country. Such schemes include one in Greenwich that will test the vehicles for automated valet parking, as well as their potential use as automated shuttle buses. A scheme in Bristol will look into the insurance implications of this type of vehicle, while schemes in Coventry and Milton Keynes will concentrate on the establishment of appropriate infrastructure and networks to handle the vehicles.
The schemes will also look into the public perception and reception of these vehicles, while they will be tested on a range of different terrains and road types including around towns and cities, but also over hilly and less stable terrain.