UK risks missing out on the benefits of the multi-billion pound market in smart car technologies unless the government comes up with a comprehensive strategy, a report from MPs warned.
The Department of Transport (DfT) will need to develop a comprehensive strategy to maximise the benefits of motoring technologies such as driverless cars, a report from the House of Commons Transport Committee said.
“The Government must do more to ensure that people and business in the UK benefit from this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Louise Ellman, the committee’s chairman, said launching the report.
Rapid advances in technology could also outpace road safety measures and lead to fatalities and serious injuries, if the DfT fails to understand how “the introduction of self-driving cars will affect the liabilities of drivers, manufacturers and insurers”.
It claimed that transport ministers should state what vehicles are safe on the roads – semi-autonomous or driverless, and how the driving standards will be monitored and enforced.
Talking about the report, IET’s Phil Blythe said an integrated transport strategy should cover “all modes” from cars to pedestrians and cyclists, but that it should also “look to the future”.
“Our future roads and transport networks will include multiple technologies and infrastructure networks and different usages for urban and rural users.
“The government must look at the future of motoring in phases, from maintenance to current networks to resilience of new networks and the opportunities this may bring.”
Although there are recognised benefits such as unblocking congested highways and providing the basis for rapid industrial growth, MPs called for more regulation after the government gave the go-ahead for driverless cars to be tested on public roads last month.
As E&T news reported, public acceptance of driverless cars is not very high with only a quarter of men thinking of using a one and 16 per cent of women.
Assessing which feature would be most important in a driverless car another survey revealed that an overwhelming 74 per cent of consumers would want a “manual override option”. “I just cannot see myself in one of these. I would be too stressed out thinking something will go wrong,” one of the respondents said.
The estimated market value for autonomous cars – if adopted widely – could be up to $60bn by 2030, according to research firm Gartner.
Unless the government steps up the UK could fail to capitalise on the self-driving pods, Nathan Marsh, smart infrastructure leader at Ernst & Young, said.
“We need to accelerate the development of huge scale projects, that are commercially viable and that can be integrated to the existing road network, or else the UK’s infrastructure potential will be consigned to the slow lane.”