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Home » Business News, News in Brief

Deloitte Comments on New Legislation for Driverless Vehicles…

Submitted by on August 6, 2014 – 6:10 am |

David Raistrick, global managing director, indirect tax at Deloitte“The Government’s announcement this morning is extremely positive news, indicating that the UK is intent at being a leader in this new technology. The UK has become known for being at the leading edge of technological developments and this will enable the automotive sector to continue its renaissance.

“Whilst the public has not yet embraced the concept of autonomous cars trundling around Britain’s roads, the reality is that, within a decade, technology advancements will allow driverless cars to become the norm. Today’s barriers to adoption largely came from UK legislation preventing driverless cars, coupled with the price entry point for this new technology. The Government’s announcement will remove some of these hurdles, whilst also encouraging the UK to become an early adopter. I would expect that as the technology advances, the prices will start to fall.”

Driverless vehicle trials

Raistrick continues: “The choice of the three pilot cities will be an interesting one, particularly with the initial number of autonomous vehicles not yet being clear. I would expect these cities to operate the vehicles themselves, using the £10m funding to acquire and run them, as limited additional infrastructure will be required. It will be fascinating to see which cities wish to apply for the grants and I expect many of the larger regional centres to be at the front of the queue.”

Neil Marshall, automotive research analyst at Deloitte, says; “The only other major economy to have already allowed such a trial is the United States where driverless vehicles are allowed in three states (California, Nevada and Florida) and have proven the technology to be both stable and safe. Sweden is proposing a large trial, with Japan having last year carrying out a limited test on their public roads. I believe it is strategically important for the UK to also be an early adopter in order to help protect our global involvement in this important sector.”

Wider impact

Raistrick says: “The introduction of driverless vehicles, in however small or large a number, may ultimately raise new challenges for the insurance industry, as we are a long way from the point where the autonomous vehicle is the norm. The vast majority of vehicles on the road are controlled by human beings, so will a collision between a driverless car and a driven vehicle default to the driver being responsible?

“In a similar manner, manufacturers will find their customers’ requirements for a car changing completely. Engine size will becomes less relevant, as does driver experience, with the connectivity of the vehicle and the use of the internet and TV for example becoming more important.

“For the country as a whole, I believe the wider benefits are far more than just driver safety. It will potentially allow large haulage vehicles to become driverless, thus safeguarding other road users including cyclists and pedestrians, giving the elderly more mobility and allowing society as a whole to become safely connected whilst on the move. Computer modelling further suggests that as cars can then safely travel closer together, the existing infrastructure will accommodate significantly more vehicles, thereby reducing congestion. As with any new technology, there will be winners and losers. However, we are probably at least a decade away from widespread public usage.”

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