Self-driving cars could soon be on UK roads as experts praise 'progress is being made'

Last year, the UK became the first country to green light self-driving cars on motorways after the Department for Transport announced it would regulate the vehicles at slow speeds. The cars would be limited to 37mph or 60km/h, with the Government also saying it was working on specific wording to update the Highway Code for the safe use of self-driving vehicle systems.

This would start with Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS) which uses sensors and software to keep cars within a lane, allowing them to accelerate and brake without driver input.

A spokesperson for Grange spoke about the future of autonomous vehicles on UK roads.

They said: “Are autonomous vehicles (AVs) ready to take on the challenge of Britain’s roads?

“The short answer is no, but progress is being made.

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“However, this would require the construction of separated infrastructure for automated vehicles.

“Unfortunately, there is limited availability of land to create such separated infrastructure, and this could be quite expensive to implement.”

Some projects are already in the pipeline to which could improve road infrastructure, including Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Infrastructure Appraisal Readiness (CAVIAR).

This project is designed to be a simulation which examines real raw data and will allow for an understanding of how the AVs respond to dynamic lane changes, environmental conditions, and road merging.

Amrit Dhami, Thematic Analyst at GlobalData, also commented on whether self-driving vehicles have a place on British roads in the next few years.

She said: “By 2035, 5.1 million ‘level four’ AVs—AVs that can drive themselves only within a geofenced area—and 2.7 million ‘level five’ AVs—AVs that can handle all driving tasks in all circumstances and environments—will be on the world’s roads.

“However, their production will slow down while automakers grapple with regulatory and technological hurdles.

“The momentum around AVs at the moment appears to be more hype than substance, as there are still challenges to overcome before self-driving vehicles can reach the mass market.

“Transport as a service (TaaS) is dictating strategic partnerships between companies in the AV sector and is driving the development of autonomous trucks and taxis.”

Remote controlled driverless cars are set to be trialled on public roads this month in Milton Keynes, with the long-term goal of making remote transport safer than normal driving.

Impreium Drive CEO Koosha Kaveh was clear to point out they are “driverless” not “autonomous.

He added: “There’s still a human involved, but they will be sitting in a control centre controlling the vehicle in the same way you would control a drone.

“We’re working towards making remote driving safer than normal driving. In normal driving, you still have blindspots around you that cause accidents.

“You also can’t anticipate what’s coming in terms of traffic, pedestrians or cyclists.”