The government needs to address the practicalities of introducing driverless cars onto UK roads, with safety, liability and licensing being priorities, according to the Commons Transport Committee.
The committee’s Motoring of the future report found that the Department for Transport (DfT) has yet to work out how it will link new automotive technology with government policy, despite the publication of its Pathway to driverless cars report.
MPs on the committee said the DfT “should develop a comprehensive vision to shape motoring of the future” by working in partnership with other government departments and agencies.
This strategy needs to address issues around safety and liability in the event of crashes on roads predicted to have a mix of manual, semi-autonomous and driverless vehicles within 10 years.
The committee recommended that the DfT clarifies how driverless cars will affect the liabilities of motorists, vehicle manufacturers and insurers.
It also said the mix of manual and autonomous vehicles on UK roads will require the DfT to prepare for a period where not all of the benefits offered by driverless technology, such as reduced congestion and smoother traffic flow, will be realised.
The committee said benefits of driverless cars will only be fully realised when there is widespread adoption of autonomous car technology.
Louise Ellman MP, chair of the Commons Transport Committee, said: “The public need to be sure that new types of vehicles are safe to travel on our roads.
“Transport ministers must explain how different types of vehicles will be certified and tested, how drivers will be trained and how driving standards will be updated, monitored and enforced.”
The rise of telematics and other car technology means that increasing amounts of data can be collected from vehicles.
The committee said the DfT will need to consider how that data is used within transport policy-making and ensure it is channelled into creating a better transport system, while also reassuring the public about how their data is being collected and used.
Evidence presented to the committee suggested there is a gap in research into the security of car data and that issues relating to the reliability and ownership of the data are not being addressed by the government’s motoring strategy.
The report recommended that the DfT asks the Information Commissioner’s Office to update guidelines on the collection, access to and use of vehicle data.
While there are numerous concerns around autonomous vehicles, with cyber security being touted as a top priority for driverless cars, the technology is still being pursued by major car and technology companies.