UK government wants to lead the way on driverless cars

Although it did not get much press attention when Britain’s National Infrastructure Plan was launched earlier in the month, one section of the plan sets out an ambitious approach to driverless cars.

As the BBC reports:

The government has announced that it wants to make the UK a world centre for the development of driverless cars.

It said it would conduct a review next year to ensure that the legislative and regulatory framework is in place for such vehicles to be incorporated on Britain’s roads.

It will also create a £10m prize to fund a town or city to become a testing ground for autonomous vehicles…

Many think that the issue of who will be liable in the event of accidents will hold up the development of autonomous vehicles but … software engineer and adviser to Google on its self-drive car project … Mr Templeton is not convinced.

“I think only the barristers will find it the most interesting question,” he said.

“For me the more interesting question is whether a machine is more liable than a drunk driver. Countries that decide a machine is more liable will slow the development of this technology,” he added.

Car manufacturers suggest that autonomous vehicles will be on the roads within the decade.

That point about insurance rules may not be interesting in Templeton’s views. It doesn’t make it trivial, however, as who the law puts financial risks on greatly influences innovation. It is an example of why policymakers need to start getting to grip with this area.


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