The transport minister for the United Kingdom, Mark Harper, has hinted that autonomous vehicles might be seen on British roads as early as 2026.
Although fully autonomous vehicles are still prohibited, the government’s Automated Vehicles (AV) bill is making its way through parliament with the goal of creating a framework by the end of 2024.
In a BBC Radio interview, Harper described the technology’s slow rollout, predicting that by 2026, businesses would start introducing parts of their fully autonomous cars and gradually deploying them in particular areas.
Harper emphasized that although some have expressed worries about the possibility of accidents with driverless vehicles, the technology is dedicated to improving road safety.
He said: “Everything I’ve seen about automated vehicles and self-driving technologies, it’s very focused on keeping people safe.”
Skepticism has been heightened, notably by recent events in the US, including as the directive for General Motors’ driverless car division Cruise to remove its cars from Californian roadways following an accident in October.
In an attempt to control this rapidly changing environment, the UK unveiled laws in November that outlined plans to hold manufacturers accountable for self-driving car accidents rather than owners.
The government claims that the purpose of this bill is to protect users and promote safety in the emerging AV market. As the legal process moves forward, the UK is setting itself up for a revolution in transportation, with the possibility of self-driving cars emerging in the coming years.