Technology is being developed for driverless cars either side of the Atlantic, and the UK government has been pushed to draw up laws by Google’s drive to see its cars legally used on the roads in California.
Ministers have admitted that the current Highway Code and rules of the road are inadequate for the new generation of driverless cars.
Last month Google unveiled its ‘hands-free’ self-driving bubble car, which has no steering wheel, brake or accelerator pedals. It is made up of buttons for start, pull over and emergency stop and a computer screen showing your route.
Science minister David Willetts is currently in talks with the Department for Transport about rewriting the law to allow cars on to UK highways without anyone in the driving seat.
The British version, currently being developed in Oxford, has so far clocked up less miles than the Google version and so it needs the opportunity to be tested on a wide range of environments. It is for this reason that new regulations must be drawn up.
Williets has said that the government’s infrastructure plan commits to reviewing the law to ‘ensure there is a clear and appropriate regime for the testing of driverless cars that supports the world’s car companies to come and hand test them here’.