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UK govt report calls for further research into human and financial impact of driverless cars

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The UK government must look into the potential human and financial implications of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV).

That’s according to the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee’s report titled ‘Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: The Future”.

According to the research published today, the government’s work on CAV has so far focused too heavily on research problems and testing technologies for highly automated vehicles with inadequate effort on thinking about deployment.

Oxford’s AI firm Oxbotica gets £8.6m to lead driverless car consortium

The potential advantages of driverless cars, the report states, are many, but more research is required to understand the scale or likelihood of these claimed benefits.

“The government should commission detailed research to challenge cherished assumptions and provide a realistic indication of the benefits CAV could provide.

“The main social and behavioural questions relating to CAV remain largely unanswered and the government should give priority to commissioning and encouraging research to provide answers,” it notes.

The other main findings of the report were:

  • The government is too focussed on highly-automated private road vehicles (“driverless cars”), when the early benefits are likely to appear in other sectors, such as marine and agriculture;
  • The development of CAV across different sectors needs coordination and the government, working with key stakeholders, must get a grip on this chiefly by establishing a Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) Leadership Council as soon as possible to play a key role in developing a strategy for CAV;
  • This is a fast-moving area of technology and the government has much to do, alongside industry and other partners, to position the UK so that it can take full advantage of the opportunities that CAV offer in different sectors.

Commenting on the report, Matthew Evans, executive director of SmarterUK and IoT at techUK, said: “techUK welcomes the Committee’s inquiry into this fast-moving area, where we fully support government’s intention for the UK to continue to be a leader in Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs). The introduction of CAVs holds the promise of a transformational improvement to our society with digital at the heart.”

“The Committee has acknowledged that connectivity underpins the safe and efficient operation of CAVs and that today’s mobile coverage of major roads needs to be improved. It is essential that consideration of future connectivity requirements be baked into the design of upgrades to ensure that we have the smart infrastructure required to take advantage of the rapid developments in this area,” Evans concluded.

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