GEM welcomes driverless car trials
GEM welcomes the launch of driverless car trials by Government ministers Vince Cable and Claire Perry today in Greenwich. The Government has completed a review of regulations which gives the green light to projects in Greenwich, Coventry, Milton Keynes and Bristol over the next two years. The review was necessary to ensure safety and legal clarity before the trails could go ahead.
The Department of Transport review acknowledges that true driverless cars may be some way off and that current tests of the technology will need to include a qualified test driver to supervise the vehicle.
“Driverless vehicle technology has the potential to be a real game-change on the UK’s roads, altering the face of motoring in the most fundamental of ways and delivering major benefits for road safety, social inclusion, emissions and congestion,” said transport minister Claire Perry.
“We are pleased to see the regulations for driverless cars clarified and for these projects to get underway.,” said David Williams MBE, chief executive of GEM Motoring Assist. “Human error is involved in about 90% of crashes. We know that humans are unlikely to improve much as drivers. However, safety technology – driverless or driver assist – is advancing rapidly.
“There is currently huge interest in driverless cars and advanced vehicle technologies in the UK and globally. What seemed like science fiction only three years ago is now being treated as science fact. We welcome its development in the UK which should give us more opportunity to shape it rather than to have it all determined elsewhere.
“We believe these trials are designed more to understand the reaction of users, inside and outside the vehicles, than to test the technology. They are relatively modest but will hopefully yield valuable results that could be applied in more ambitious conditions. There is still a great deal to be learned, particularly about how people will react.“
“The high-tech innovation is exciting, but we also need to ensure there are policy decisions on long-term, low-tech matters such as who takes responsibility if things go wrong. As and when these vehicles become commonplace, there is likely to be a shift from personal to product liability and that is a whole new ball game for insurers and manufacturers.”
The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) said that it was concerned that, while the government is pushing ahead with making driverless cars a reality, the service and repair sector did not yet have the skills and infrastructure in place to deal with the new technology. IMI chief executive Steve Nash is calling on businesses to take steps to address this sooner rather than later. “We believe the government is yet to fully realise the pressures we are under,” he said.
Research undertaken by Virgin last year suggested that 43% of the British public wouldn’t feel comfortable with the presence of driverless cars on the roads. A quarter of those surveyed said that they would not get inside such a car.