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Government launches programme of reform to prepare roads for driverless technology

vehicle fitted with autonomous emergency braking stopping behind another car

A major consultation to help pave the way for automated cars to be used on British roads is being launched, with all drivers invited to have their say.

Under the proposed measures, rules will be changed so automated vehicles can be insured for use on the roads.

In addition, the Highway code and regulations are to be altered so advanced driver assistance systems that change lanes on the motorway and park the vehicle by remote control can be used safely.

Separately, the Government will next month launch a competition for a further £30 million from the Intelligent Mobility Fund, for research and development of innovative connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.

This builds on the first £20 million awarded to a number of projects in February, and ensures the UK is able to take advantage of the latest technological developments in driverless cars research. An additional £19 million fund is also paving the way for driverless car projects in Greenwich, Bristol, and a joint project in Milton Keynes and Coventry.

Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, said: “Driverless car technology will revolutionise the way we travel and deliver better journeys.

“Britain is leading the way but I want everyone to have the chance to have a say on how we embrace and use these technologies.

“Our roads are already some of the safest in the world and increasing advanced driver assist and driverless technologies have the potential to help cut the number of accidents further.”

Sajid Javid, business secretary, added: “Britain’s auto industry has always been at the forefront of innovation and research. This additional £30 million of funding for research and development is a further sign of our commitment to making sure we’re creating opportunities for UK businesses to thrive and attract global investment in world-class technology.

“Cars with advanced driver assistance features, like remote control parking and motorway assist, are expected to be on sale in Britain in the next two to four years with automated and driverless vehicles expected on the roads any time from the mid-2020s onwards.”

The consultation on the two changes is due to get underway today (July 11) and will last for nine weeks. It is the start of a rolling programme of reform on the roadmap to fully automated vehicles.

The proposed changes to insurance will be brought forward in the Modern Transport Bill. Motor insurance will remain compulsory but will be extended to cover product liability for automated vehicles.

James Dalton, Director of General Insurance Policy at the Association of British Insurers (ABI), said: “The ABI’s Automated Driving Insurer Group has been engaged in constructive and productive discussions with the Department for Transport for many months now so it is good to see the importance of insurance to the vehicles of the future recognised within this consultation.”

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