Autonomous vehicles not expected to hit UK roads for more than a decade
A new report by PA Consulting Group says that, despite the hype, fully autonomous vehicles may be more than 10 years away from being a common sight on UK roads. To gather insight for the research, PA interviewed more than 100 experts involved in the UK's emerging driverless ecosystem in both the UK and the Nordics, including manufacturers, national and local government, the police, law firms, highways authorities, engineering organizations, and motoring organizations. PA's findings reveal that while progress is being made around technology, the rest of the ecosystem to support driverless cars, including regulation, insurance, compliance, roads, and users, still needs much development.
The recent launch of the UK government's MERIDIAN scheme advanced plans for connected autonomous vehicle (CAV) technology development in the UK. However, the research claims to show that regulation and legislation could be the biggest impedances for the UK when accepting AVs onto the roads. Legislative requirements around the government's right to access data could affect the technology, and a lack of usable technology will make connectivity and security impossible to achieve, slowing progress. Conversely, insurance could be one of the quickest to achieve its full capability as it can develop the relevant policies. However, with insufficient regulations, the question of liability remains. Key issues also exist around public acceptability.
Elsewhere in Europe, the research suggests the Nordics are further ahead when it comes to technology and regulations. Charlie Henderson, Roads Expert, PA Consulting Group, noted, "The government's launch of the MERIDIAN scheme is a good first step. However, what we now need is a clear national strategy for the UK to know how it can make the most of AVs, or we face being left far behind our European neighbors.
"While manufacturers and the media talk enthusiastically about mass uptake of autonomous vehicles, the reality is that there are a number of significant technological, legislative, and public confidence barriers. The key to speeding up progress is all about developing public confidence. For this to happen, we must be clear about the social and economic benefits of driverless cars; define what skills the UK needs to realize those benefits; create a framework of regulations for driverless and conventional cars to co-exist; develop a cyber security framework to boost consumer confidence; and create incentives to include AV technologies in new or existing cars.
"The Nordic countries seem to be much more ahead than the UK; perhaps reflecting their more positive, enthusiastic cultural outlook. The challenge is to follow-through—getting working autonomous vehicles onto our roads and ensuring that the public are confident and safe to use them. Some of the Nordic countries are small and that makes it easier to push ahead and coordinate the introduction of autonomous vehicles. Some of our roads regulation is dated, the legislative process can be slow and difficult in comparison with other countries, and we have a large number of bodies involved in managing our roads network. Despite the ambitions of our politicians, we are a cautious country, and this makes it hard to move at pace."
The following table shows progress and barriers regarding each capability, according to the study.
|Technology||Research and testing is well underway, but there is more to be done.|
|Regulations and laws||Road regulations will need a complete overhaul.|
|Public acceptance||Few people have had contact with AVs, and the realities are misunderstood.|
|Compliance||Road worthiness needs a standard to test against.|
|Roads||Need to be part of a national transport strategy.|
|Insurance||It is uncertain where the liability will lie.|
For further information or to download a copy of the report, visit http://www.paconsulting.com/autonomous-vehicles.