Lords tell government to take action to ensure UK benefits from autonomous cars

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has told the UK government that it needs to take action about autonomous cars.

Lords tell government to take action to ensure UK benefits from autonomous cars

The committee’s report ‘Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: The future?’, released today, recommends that the government takes policy and investment decisions that will result in maximum economic benefit from the technology.

After hearing evidence that suggested the UK would need new road and communications infrastructure to fully realise the benefits of autonomous vehicles, the committee recommended the government take action with highways and transport authorities to engage with industry.

The report flagged a lack of co-ordination of strategy or information sharing between different sectors, and suggested that the government establish a Robotics and Autonomous Systems Leadership Council in order to develop a strategy.

The committee said that the government must continue to investment in the technology underlying connected and autonomous vehicles, and establish a large scale testing environments in both urban and rural locations.

Potential behavioural issues such as slow reaction times were also looked at by the committee, with the report highlighting a potential safety risk from diver complacency and overreliance on technology, particularly in emergency situations.

In order to address this, the report recommended the government gave priority to research studying the behavioural impact as part of any autonomous car trials it funds.

John Roundell Palmer, chairman of the committee and earl of Selborne, urged the government to continue to close the engineering and digital skills gap in order to pave the way for autonomous vehicle adoption.

He said: “Connected and autonomous vehicles 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.

“Long-term developments in CAV have the potential to bring about transformational change to society but these changes will only take place if society is willing to both pay for and to adapt its behaviour to fit the technology.”