Britain will lead the world in self-driving cars, says Harper

9 November 2023, 00:04

An autonomous vehicle trial
Autonomous vehicle trials. Picture: PA

Transport Secretary Mark Harper was speaking after a Bill to create a set of laws for using autonomous vehicles was included in the King’s Speech.

Britain will lead the world in the development of self-driving cars, Transport Secretary Mark Harper said.

He made the claim after an Automated Vehicles Bill to create a set of laws for using autonomous vehicles was included in the King’s Speech.

The legislation will aim to ensure there is clear legal liability over who or which organisation is responsible during crashes involving self-driving cars.

This is seen as vital to encourage companies to develop the technology in the UK.

Mr Harper, who went on a ride in a self-driving car being tested by automated driving company Wayve in Westminster on Wednesday, told the PA news agency: “(This Bill) makes Britain the place where companies like Wayve want to invest.

“It makes us the number one location for developing this sort of technology in the world, which is exactly what we wanted to achieve.

“It’s the combination of regulatory certainty and also the skills that we have in the UK with the people that are skilled in developing this technology.

“The combination of that makes us a great place to develop this technology.”

The Government believes the sector can generate up to £42 billion for the UK economy and create 38,000 skilled jobs by 2035.

Mr Harper predicted that self-driving vehicles will be permitted to operate regularly on Britain’s roads “in the next couple of years”.

Asked if the technology is safe, he replied: “In the legislation, there’s a very clear safety framework to make sure, like in other safety-critical industries, that you’ve got all the proper systems in place to make sure they’re safe.

“It’s worth remembering (in) 88% of road accidents that take place today, human error is some part of it.

“All of the car manufacturers that I have spoken to that are interested in developing this technology are all focused on delivering safety as one of, if not the, primary requirement that they’re looking to do, really drive down the number of accidents that we have on the roads.”

By Press Association

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