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The front end of the test vehicle Acura is using to test its autonomous Automated Drive car
Image: The front end of the test vehicle Acura is using to test its autonomous Automated Drive car. REUTERS/Mike Blake

“Fully Driverless Cars” Will be Legal in the U.K. in 4 Years

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Image: The front end of the test vehicle Acura is using to test its autonomous Automated Drive car. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The U.K. government has announced intentions to invest in the driverless car sector, bringing them to the roads by 2021. Chancellor Philip Hammond announced his goal to see “fully driverless cars” being used in four years without the need for a safety attendant.

Cars That Drive Themselves

Hammond explained that “Some would say that’s a bold move, but we have to embrace these technologies if we want the UK to lead the next industrial revolution.” At that time, he had yet to actually ride in a driverless car. That said, he intended to be a passenger in a self-driving vehicle the following day when he visited the West Midlands.

On Budget Day, Hammond will make his official announcement of changes to regulations in the United Kingdom. This will make it possible for vehicle developers to test their driverless cars on actual roads throughout the country. For the moment, those vehicles will need to have a safety attendant on board. However, the goal is to perfect the self-driving cars to the point that they will no longer need the attendants by 2021.

Will Professional Drivers Lose Their Jobs?

When the chancellor was asked about whether people who drive for a living will risk losing their jobs, Hammond acknowledge that it could be a consequence of this advancement. Equally, he stated that the United Kingdom would not “hide from change.” Instead, he said that it was up to the government to make sure that the British people were equipped with the skills they would need “to take up new careers” when driving is no longer a viable option.

This recent announcement came on the heels of an announcement from Jaguar Land Rover. This largest auto manufacturer in the country has announced its own progress in developing driverless cars and how the testing process is being brought to public roadways.

Jaguar’s Self-Driving Vehicle Tests

Jaguar’s trials were conducted in Coventry city center over a number of weeks. They tested the effectiveness, accuracy, and reliability of onboard sensors that make it possible for a vehicle to detect road users, traffic signals, and pedestrians. Throughout the testing period, a human driver was present on board and was ready to react in case of emergency.

The government currently predicts that by 2035, the self-driving car industry will be worth £28 billion and will contribute to 27,000 jobs in the country. That said, it should be pointed out that critics still caution that the technology remains a long way from being road ready for mainstream use.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Alvexo on the matter.