Driverless cars on UK roads by 2021

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Driverless cars on UK roads by 2021

Post by Deadpool on Sun Nov 26, 2017 12:10 pm

The chancellor has warned that a million British workers will need to retrain with the driverless cars set to revolutionise the workplace and people’s lives.

Philip Hammond reaffirmed a budget pledge to ensure “genuine driverless vehicles” on Britain’s roads by 2021 – and said people should be prepared for it to be “very challenging”.
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While manufacturers have launched increasingly autonomous vehicles, and advanced trials of driverless technology have started this month, industry experts query how and when such a transition will take place. Hammond told the BBC Today programme: “It will happen, I can promise you. It is happening already ... It is going to revolutionise our lives, it is going to revolutionise the way we work. And for some people this will be very challenging.”

He added: “The challenge for us is making sure that the million-odd people in the UK who drive for a living, over the next 10, 20 years or so, as driverless vehicles come in, are able to retrain and re-skill so they can take up the many, many new jobs that this economy will be throwing up.”

Hammond has spent much of the week discussing autonomous vehicles, although a planned ride in a driverless car was ruled out by aides as a potentially unfortunate photo opportunity. However, the budget did little to underpin his words, bar a commitment to legislate for autonomous driving without a human at the wheel – a reform already progressing through parliament in the automated and electric vehicles bill – fuelling some scepticism.

The transport commentator Christian Wolmar, author of Driverless Cars: On A Road To Nowhere, suggested it was a “dead-cat issue” to distract from bigger questions about the budget. “It’s a complete fantasy that we will have any driverless car by 2021 - and moreover why would we want them? What issue is this solving?”

But others working on development say rapid progress will be made in bringing such cars to Britain’s streets. Prof Nick Reed, head of mobility R&D at Bosch, said: “We should be well advanced into testing of automated vehicles by that time - there are further regulatory hurdles, but I believe that is what [Hammond is] committed to address. We’ve seen the move by Waymo in Phoenix to move to trials without a driver in the seat, and so the race is on - that’s the challenge.”

Waymo, a company that started as part of Google, launched tests of fully driverless taxis on the streets of Phoenix, Arizona, this month, and residents are expected to be able to hail them via an app in coming months. Two weeks ago Navya, a French manufacturer, unveiled a new city taxi ready for production with no driving seat, steering wheel or brakes that a human driver could use. Meanwhile, Jaguar Land Rover revealed it was testing self-driving vehicles on public roads in Coventry, albeit with a driver in the front seat – the first traditional UK-built car to run autonomously.

Reed added: “There will be vehicles with automated capabilities for sale in that time frame, no question: Ford are saying vehicles without steering will be available by 2021. It’s just a question of what geographical constraints they can operate in an automated mode.”

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