The UK government has announced that it will allow driverless cars to operate on public roads by 2023, making it the first European nation to do so. The move is part of a plan to boost the country’s economy and innovation in the post-pandemic era.
The government said that it will update the Highway Code and introduce new legislation to enable the safe use of driverless cars, also known as autonomous vehicles (AVs), on motorways and other roads. The new rules will allow AVs to drive themselves without a human driver in the vehicle, as long as they meet certain safety standards and have a valid insurance policy.
The government also said that it will support the development and testing of AVs in the UK, by providing funding, infrastructure and regulatory guidance. The government hopes that the AV industry will create nearly 40,000 jobs and be worth more than £40 billion by 2035.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that the UK is leading the way in innovation and technology, and that driverless cars will bring significant benefits to society and the environment.
“Driverless cars are the future of transport, and they will make our roads safer, cleaner and more efficient.
They will also create new opportunities for businesses and consumers, and boost our economy and recovery from the pandemic. The UK is at the forefront of this global revolution, and we are determined to be the first country in Europe to allow driverless cars on public roads,” Shapps said.
However, some experts and critics have raised concerns about the safety, ethics and social impact of driverless cars. They argue that AVs may not be able to handle complex or unpredictable situations on the road, such as bad weather, roadworks or pedestrians. They also question whether AVs will be able to communicate with other road users, such as cyclists or emergency vehicles.
Moreover, they worry that AVs may pose ethical dilemmas, such as who is responsible for accidents or injuries caused by them.