THE UK GOVERNMENT is considering altering local road use policies to reflect that fact that driverless cars will soon be roaming our streets.
Science minister David Willetts made the backseat comments on this in an interview with the Daily Mail. He said that Britain will blaze a trail that is already being blazed in the US and make the UK not a bad place to walk the streets.
"You need a regulatory regime so that these [cars] are permitted," he told the bikini catalogue Daily Mail. "What America is going to have is a legal regime in California that permits you to travel in one without requiring someone in the so-called driver's seat. Certainly there are new regulations being drafted in California and obviously this is something I have discussed with the Department for Transport, we are aware of it."
The Highway Code could take the brunt of this, and it is the Highway Code that citizens have to learn in order to get a driver's licence. The document informs drivers how to behave in certain situations, so if we are to stop being drivers then it will need something of a rewrite.
Willetts wants the UK to catch up with the work that Google has spent millions on, and reckons that it has a decent chance. Trials in Milton Keynes and Oxford suggest that this is the direction we are moving.
"But whereas the Google car, they have notched up more miles, so we have got to ensure that the British has its own opportunity to get tested in a wider range of environments and that's what we are working on with the department for transport. The technology is being developed at Oxford as we speak."
We asked the Department for Transport (DfT) how far advanced preparations for driverless cars have become, and the answer can be summarised that they are "ongoing".
"Driverless cars have the potential to transform our roads and create opportunities for UK companies to develop new technology and create economic growth. We need to ensure their use on UK roads is safe and that the wider public benefit," said the DfT.
"That is why we are working with Oxford University, who are trialling this technology. We are reviewing current regulations in relation to this technology and a report is due at the end of this year." µ