UK eyes self-driving cars on roads by 2026

London: Mark Harper, the UK’s transport minister, has signalled that self-driving cars could grace British roads as early as 2026.

While full self-driving vehicles are currently restricted, the government’s Automated Vehicles (AV) legislation is progressing through parliament, aiming to establish a legal framework by the close of 2024.

Harper, in an interview with BBC Radio, outlined the gradual implementation of this technology, anticipating that elements of cars with full self-driving capabilities would be introduced by 2026, with companies gradually deploying them in specific locations.

Despite critics voicing concerns about potential accidents associated with autonomous vehicles, Harper emphasised the technology’s commitment to enhancing road safety.

He remarked: “Everything I’ve seen about automated vehicles and self-driving technologies, it’s very focused on keeping people safe.”

Notably, recent incidents in the United States, such as the order for General Motors’ driverless car unit Cruise to remove vehicles from California roads after an October accident, have fueled scepticism.

In a bid to regulate this evolving landscape, the UK introduced legislation in November, outlining plans to hold manufacturers, rather than owners, legally liable for self-driving car crashes.

The government asserts that this bill aims to safeguard users and foster safety within the burgeoning AV industry. As the legislative process unfolds, the UK positions itself for a transformative era in transportation, with self-driving vehicles potentially becoming a reality within the next few years.