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Self-driving tech held at a red light by UK Government

As the number of self-driving trials continue to rise, the UK Government has launched a review into the technology before it is set to take to the roads in the UK.

By April Slattery

The UK Government has said it will carry out a review on legislation before self-driving cars will let loose on UK roads.

Lasting for a three year period, the review will take into consideration the responsibility self-driving vehicles hold and their role for public transport. The review will look into the possibility of implementing new criminal offences with the use of self-driving cars.

Developing the technology makes up part of the government’s industrial strategy, which means the review period would be enough time to deploy the technology to Chancellor Philip Hammond’s expectations of 2021.

The implementation of Brexit has held concerns for the UK to keep its status in the technology industry, therefore if self-driving technology got the green light ahead of Brexit it would keep the UK in the race for world leader status in the digital world.

There has been a lot of talk around not only individual self-driving cars, but autonomous taxi’s and possibly other vehicles. The review will be carried out by the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission. Together, the bodies will look at how traditional laws in the UK need to be adapted to the issues of self-driving technology.

Self-driving tech held at a red light by UK Government

Greenwich’s driverless car initiative ‘GATEway’.

Issues that will be examined within the review include looking at the role of automated vehicles in public transport, new criminal offences to be drawn up and the impact on other road users and how to ‘protect’ them from the technology.  Additionally, the review will determine who will hold responsibility for a self-driving vehicle.

Hammond allocated £270m to emerging technology, including the research and development of driverless vehicles. Therefore the review is important to roll out the vision Hammond and the rest of the government has.

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Self-driving technology has proved a success in areas already. London’s DLR service runs on an autonomous line, as well as the Royal Borough of Greenwich experimenting with the technology. In Greenwich, the area has launched its ‘GATEway’ self-driving technology initiative. Travelling at a top speed of 10mph, the technology operates a shuttle service to residents in the area to get them from A to B.

Although the technology in this kind of capacity has proved a success, there have been concerns raised over the technology behind the idea. Some cases have demonstrated the concerns against the technology, such as the vehicles not ‘seeing’ obstacles or identifying a stop sign with graffiti.

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“The UK is a world leader for self-driving vehicle research and development and this work marks an important milestone in our continued commitment to the technology,” Roads Minister Jesse Norman, said. “With driving technology advancing at an unprecedented rate, it is important that our laws and regulations keep pace so that the UK can remain one of the world leaders in this field.”

The review is not the first the Government is undertaking in the technology industry. There has been an inquiry into the use of cryptocurrency in the workplace as well. If kept to schedule the review will be completed by 2021.

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