driverless cars

Driverless cars set for 2021 UK launch, transport secretary announces

The first driverless cars will hit the UK’s roads in 2021, according to transport secretary Chris Grayling.

Grayling is expected to outline the government’s ambitions for the nascent technology when he speaks at the Association of British Insurers later today.

“We’ve seen nothing in our lifetimes that can compare with the motoring revolution that’s just around the corner,” he will say. “A revolution that will transform the way we travel, the way we buy, run and power our cars and the way we insure them.

“There are major opportunities in this fast emerging market for those who are best prepared. It is estimated that the market for autonomous vehicles could be worth £28bn to the UK by 2035.

“That’s why we are so committed to becoming a global leader in the design, development and use of autonomous vehicles.”

He is also expected to explain how he believes the new technology could transform the lives of elderly and disabled people who are currently unable to drive.

The Department for Transport said a survey found that 96 per cent of older people believe a self-driving car would help them get out of the house more often and a third of people with a disability say it would give them greater independence.

This is in sharp contrast to broader research carried out in May which found that just 18 per cent of UK motorists would trust technology firms to build autonomous vehicles and to secure connected car data. 

Grayling will tell the audience at the City of London event: “The potential benefits of these new technologies for human mobility - and for wider society - are tremendously exciting.

“Many who can’t currently drive will be able to take to the road. Elderly people or people with disabilities which prevent them from travelling today will discover a new sense of freedom and independence.”

The Transport Secretary will say that the government is already taking steps to be at the forefront of developing this technology.

A new compulsory insurance framework that covers automated vehicles will be mandated as part of measures in the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill which is going through Parliament.

“This will ensure that victims have quick and easy access to compensation,” Grayling will claim.

A “cluster of excellence” is to be created along the M40 corridor to develop driverless car technology using existing testing centres in Birmingham, Coventry, Oxford, Milton Keynes and London.

Earlier this year, the Department for Transport announced that platoons of self-driving lorries would be trialled on British roads at the end of next year and provided £8.1m funding towards the trials. 

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