In a speech yesterday at the PACTS Driverless Vehicles Conference at Thatcham, Claire Perry MP (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport and Member of Parliament for Devizes) pre-announced the commissioning of a further study on to subject of driverless cars - of consumers to “reassure the public that we are careful of the risk” while “recognising the need for progress”.
Study of driver and road user behaviour
In her speech, Claire Perry said that driverless vehicles weren't just a technical challenge but also a cultural challenge, stating "The idea of tech-enabled driving feels a bit weird".
On the new study she said, "I can announce today that I have asked my officials to implement alongside the trials, a study of driver and road user behaviour. I do believe this is important as a means to reassure the public that we are careful of the risk, but also recognising the need for progress."
Highlighting the issue of road safety, Claire Perry also said she wanted the introduction of driverless technologies to maintain a trend for overall reductions in road accidents.
The consumer study has, however, yet to be commissioned. A DfT spokesman said, “It’s early days but the study is expected to study the impact of driverless vehicles on other road users, including vulnerable road users such as cyclists, horse riders, disabled road users etc. It would cover what people would expect to happen and what would be the socially acceptable way to introduce the technologies.”
The spokesman said “there is no timescale as yet for the terms of the study or of a tender, but “it would feed into the other developments starting at the beginning of 2015”.
Review of legislation and winners of driverless competition to be announced in November
Previously, the DfT initiated a review of the relevant regulation and legislation covering the testing of driverless cars in the UK, and the implications of potential use of fully autonomous vehicles.
The department is currently reviewing the responses received and said it will publish its report by the end of 2014.
In July a £10 million fund was launched for collaborative research and development projects to look at how driverless cars can be integrated into everyday life in the UK.
This competition is being managed and run by InnovateUK and has the potential to support up to 3 projects starting on 1 January 2015.
The projects are to be industry led, with a local authority partner, and feature driverless-type capability in an urban environment.
Claire Perry confirmed her department hope to announce the competition winners next month.