Starting January 2015, driverless cars will be tested on roads in three cities in the United Kingdom. Under a GBP10-million ($17 million) program, such cars will undergo trials lasting 18 months to 36 months, according to the Business, Innovation & Skills department. Those trials are seen to possibly help a market for driverless vehicles.
"The excellence of our scientists and engineers has established the UK as pioneers in the development of driverless vehicles," Business Secretary Vince Cable said in a statement.
He remarked that with the trials, self-driving could be on UK roads in less than six months, putting the country at the forefront of driverless technology.
Carmakers currently working on self-driving technologies include BMW, Volvo, Volkswagen and Daimler. Technology giant Google Inc. is also aiming to build 100 fully self-driving vehicles operating sans a steering wheel or an acceleration pedal.
The United States started tinkering with driverless technology as late as two years ago, when Google said it had already conducted over 300,000 miles of self-driving car testing. Likewise, Nevada, California and Florida had passed legislation paving the way for the operation of driverless vehicles on public roads.
According to BIS, the UK government will review road regulations to accommodate driverless technology.
Murray Raisbeck, a partner at KPMG who specializes in insurance, remarked to Bloomberg that regulators as well as insurance companies should deal with security vulnerabilities on the new technologies like hackers taking over connected cars, the need for inter-vehicle communication, and who would be liability when accidents occur. He said that there is a “whole field of different risks” that the legal field would have to cope with. [source: Bloomberg]