The Transport Select Committee announced that it had launched an inquiry into the development and deployment of self-driving vehicles. They will assess safety issues and consider the relationship between self-driving vehicles and other road users including conventional vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.
The committee will explore how self-driving cars can become a common sight and the likelihood of them being used as private vehicles, public transport and commercial driving.
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It will also evaluate the progress of research and trials into autonomous and connected vehicles in the UK.
Any changes required to regulations such as the vehicles’ legal status, insurance and authorisation processes will also be analysed.
Fully driverless cars are not legally permitted on UK roads but manufacturers are developing autonomous features.
In Scotland Stagecoach began on-road testing of five full-sized driverless buses at the end of April, with the bus company preparing to launch a passenger service later this summer.
Jim Hutchinson, chief executive of Fusion Processing, said he was “delighted to be leading the world’s most complex and ambitious autonomous vehicle programme.”
Oxford-based technology firm Oxbotica also completed its first fully autonomous, driverless vehicle test on public roads last month.
The electric self-driving vehicle used a combination of radar and laser-based systems to operate in the city with no on-board driver.
The self-driving bus market is expected to grow at a rate of 27 percent annually.
In April the Department for Transport (DfT) proposed changes to the Highway Code to allow users of self-driving vehicles to be allowed to watch television programmes and films on in-built screens.
The update to the Code will maintain that the use of a phone is illegal.
It also states that users will not be responsible for crashes with insurance companies liable for any claims.
However, motorists must be prepared to take control of vehicles when necessary.
In April last year the DfT said it would allow hands-free driving vehicles with lane-keeping technology on congested motorways with speeds of up to 37mph.
A full regulatory framework for self-driving vehicles is expected to be introduced by 2025.
The development of self-driving vehicles could create around 38,000 new jobs in Britain and be worth £41.7billion to the economy by 2035, according to the DfT.
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