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Self-Driving Cars Could Hit UK Roads by 2026

Get ready for a big change on our roads! Self-driving cars could be cruising around Britain by 2026. The Department for Transport has just released an article discussing a new law that just got the green light.

Big Boost for Jobs and Safety

This new law could create over 38,000 jobs and put Britain at the cutting edge of self-driving technology. With the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act now in place, we’re looking at a potential £42 billion industry. The idea is that these high-tech cars will make our roads safer by cutting down on human errors, which cause 88% of accidents.

What's in The New Self-Driving Vehicles Law?

The AV Act ensures that self-driving cars must be as safe as the best human drivers. They’ll go through strict safety checks before they’re allowed on the roads. So, in the future, we could see a significant drop in accidents caused by drink driving, speeding, tiredness, and distractions. Safety is imperative, as recently in the US there have been two fatalities caused by driverless cars

The Transport Secretary's Take

Transport Secretary Mark Harper is excited about this change. He says this law marks the start of a revolution in how we travel, making it safer and boosting our economy. People will still have the choice to drive themselves, but from 2026, we could see self-driving cars rolling out across the country.

Self Driving Cars in UK by 2026 article - Tesla Roadster at CCM Ewhurst

Leading The Way in Innovation

The UK is already a leader in self-driving car technology, with companies like Wayve and Oxa testing their cars in London and Oxford. Wayve recently secured over $1 billion to advance its AI technology, thanks to the supportive UK framework for automated vehicle trials.

Safety and Trust Must Be at the Forefront of Self-Driving Vehicles

The AV Act is one of the most comprehensive legal frameworks in the world. It clearly outlines who’s responsible when a car is in self-driving mode, ensuring that drivers aren’t held accountable for the car’s actions. This means insurance companies, software developers, and car manufacturers will take on the responsibility.

An independent incident investigation system will also be in place, similar to what we have in the aviation industry, to keep these vehicles safe and reliable.

Changing Lives & Connecting Communities

These vehicles have the potential to improve access to services, reduce isolation, and connect rural communities. They could also help in industries facing driver shortages, like haulage and mining, making these jobs safer.

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Industry Voices

Paul Newman, Founder and CTO of Oxa, and Alex Kendall, Co-founder and CEO of Wayve, are thrilled about the new law. They believe it sets a high standard for safety and innovation, making the UK a global leader in self-driving technology.

Mike Hawes from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and Richard Cuerden from the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) also praised the new law. They see it as a major step forward for UK automotive innovation and road safety.

Self-Driving Cars Get Government Support

The government has been backing the self-driving vehicle industry with over £600 million in investment since 2015. This funding has helped create new companies, build the AV supply chain, and set the stage for a commercial market.

Increased Costs in Vehicle Repairs

One thing that we’re not seeing many people discussing is the increased cost of repairs. If you have work that requires say, your bumper removing for example, then this will need to have the sensors recalibrated. This will, of course, be an extra cost for the driver to consider with any vehicle repair.

Garages will need to heavily invest in new equipment to ensure that they can complete repairs and properly reset all the sensors. Misaligned sensors could cause disastrous consequences. The cost of this will run into the thousands for garages, and easily the hundreds for consumers.

With the cost of living crisis continuing, is added more financial strain a viable option? How will drivers manage the increased costs to keep their vehicles safe?

Looking Ahead

With the AV Act now in law, the UK is poised to lead the world in self-driving car technology. The future looks bright for safer, smarter, and more connected travel on British roads.

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