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New measures to help Britain lead the way in developing driverless technology11-07-2016  
Have your say on the use of advanced driver assistance systems and ‘self-driving’ technologies in cars on British roads. Including possible changes to the Highway Code like qualifying the two-second rule!
  • programme of reform to make the roads ready for advanced driver assistance and driverless technology is launched
  • consultation ‘chance for everyone to have their say about new vehicle technologies’

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.

For example, the suggestion is made in the consultation that there should be changes to rule 126 to enable platooning in the UK

Currently the Highway Code defines and describes how the stopping distance of a typical vehicle is a combination of ‘thinking distance’ and ‘braking distance’. By employing a system which can brake simultaneously with the vehicle in front, such as in a platoon, the thinking distance is reduced if not removed completely. As such, there is an opportunity to reduce the separation distance required between these vehicles, and hence to maximise the efficiency gains through reduced aerodynamic drag.

Highway Code Rule 126

 You must drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear. You should allow at least a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front on roads carrying faster moving traffic and in tunnels where visibility is reduced.

Therefore, we propose relaxing rule 126 where a vehicle is fitted with technology that automatically maintains a safe headway, equipped with an active V2V communication system and is part of a platoon of similarly equipped vehicles. Amending the guidance to reduce the recommended vehicle separation in the Highway Code should therefore permit vehicle platoons to operate in the most efficient configuration on our roads.

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.

The government is determined that Britain leads the way globally in embracing the safe development of driverless technology.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin 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."

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said:

"Britain’s auto industry has always been at the forefront of innovation and research. This additional £30 million of funding for reseach and development (R&D) 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 2 to 4 years with automated and driverless vehicles expected on the roads any time from the mid-2020s onwards.

Advanced driver assistance systems and ‘self-driving’ technologies will transform travel helping deliver safer, smoother and smarter road journeys.

The consultation on the 2 changes is due to get underway today (11 July 2016) and will last for 9 weeks. It is the start of a rolling programme of reform on the roadmap to fully automated vehicles.

Under the proposals:

  • the ‘Highway code’ and regulations will be changed to support the safe use of remote control parking and motorway assist features
  • insurance law will be changed so that, in the future, motorists who have handed control to their ‘self-driving’ cars can be insured properly

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.

When a motorist has handed control to their vehicle, they can be reassured that their insurance will be there if anything goes wrong.

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 DfT for many months now so it is good to see the importance of insurance to the vehicles of the future recognised within this consultation. The development of automated driving will revolutionise motoring, potentially as important a road safety innovation as the seatbelt. Insurers strongly support the Government’s ambition of making the UK a world leader in this technology and believe the insurance industry has a key role in helping give consumers confidence in using these vehicles when they become more widely available.

"The driver’s insurer will still pay out in the normal way so road accident victims are promptly reimbursed – but the insurer will then be able to claim the money back from the car company if the vehicle is deemed to be at fault."

Pathway to Driverless Cars: Proposals to support advanced driver assistance systems and automated vehicle technologies
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