4 Managing change |
53. Public confidence in new technologies is vital.
Many new technologies that are a priority for the automotive industry
are a response to demand from customers. The market has a major
role in determining which technological developments become manufactured
products. Unless the public are better informed about the potential
benefits of different technologies, demand could skew development
away from technologies that could make a real difference. For
example, concern about refuelling infrastructure might affect
take-up of alternatives to petrol and diesel. We heard anecdotal
evidence that owners of electric vehicles sometimes struggle to
find recharging points with a compatible plug for their vehicle.
Whether or not those problems are real, the perception that they
create has the potential to damage take-up of vehicles and to
undermine the DfT's good work on initiatives such as the plug-in
54. Professor Miles told us that it might be possible
to produce a driverless car within the next five years, but that
the key question was whether such a vehicle would be allowed to
drive autonomously on UK roads.
Similarly, Chris Reeves identified the key challenge as changing
regulations and legislation to take people out of the decision-making
process in driving.
55. Professor Sampson suggested that the capabilities
of autonomous safety systems would need to be regulated, as would
some form of certification and testing regime for them. He explained
that various international bodies were looking at those issues,
and that it was important that the UK remained actively involved.
He observed that the UK was leading on some aspects, but that
there were still "too many pockets of activity" and
that "somebody somewhere ought to be joining up the thinking".
The Institute of Mechanical Engineers told us that "legislation
is not keeping up with the pace of technological change that allows
for safety systems such as AEB and steering".
56. An appropriate regulatory framework and testing
regime is necessary to guide the development and deployment of
autonomous vehicles. The public are understandably concerned whether
self-driving vehicles are safe. Such concerns can be assuaged
through effective regulation and action to educate drivers and
raise public awareness. Legislation, regulation and standards
have been used successfully in the past to encourage the take-up
of particular technologies, and they have a role to play now.
Thatcham Research told us that as technology becomes more complex,
effective and autonomous, it "will pose significant challenges
for implementation into the UK fleet and will demand Government
57. The failure to update legislation in line with
the development of new technology may disadvantage the UK automotive
industry. Professor Miles told us that developing autonomous vehicle
technology presented real opportunities for the UK, but that unless
Government moved quickly, "we are quite likely to lose the
He observed that
the very largest part of the activity in this
area will almost certainly be driven by the established vehicle
manufacturers or by people coming into the field, like Google,
Tesla, Apple and players like thosepeople who have very
deep pockets. They will choose to do their research in certain
limited places around the world, often in the Far East, in the
far west and sometimes in Europe as well. The UK has a very good
but it needs something to make that happen.
We asked Professor Miles what that "something"
might be. He told us that legislation was fundamental.
58. Legislation covering driving, road use
and vehicle type approvalsvehicle type approval confirms
that a design will meet a particular performance standardmust
be revised if autonomous vehicles are to operate on UK roads.
The DfT must not allow UK legislation to fall behind both the
pace of technological change and legislation in other countries.
For example, the German Government has designated a stretch
of autobahn for testing driverless vehicles. We note that the
German transport minister is drawing up a legal framework to allow
driverless vehicles to operate on all German roads with the intention
of setting out the key points before the Frankfurt car fair in
A failure to update legislation in line with the development
of new technology may disadvantage the UK automotive industry.
59. The Minister told us that the DfT is "publishing
a regulatory review [
] which looks at all the regulatory
questions around this technology."
The review was published on 11 February 2015.
The action plan that this review recommends sees domestic and
international regulations being amended between 2017 and 2018
and the production of highly or fully automated vehicles from
welcome the publication of the Government's regulatory review,
The pathway to driverless cars and the roadmap that
it sets out for changes to the legislative and regulatory framework.
However, this high-level consideration will need to be supported
by further work to identify exactly which legislation requires
amendment if it is to have a significant impact.
60. The DfT should provide underpinning detail
to support the legislative and other changes that it identified
in its regulatory review. In doing so, it should articulate what
changes it expects in the processes and systems for checking and
enforcing compliance, and how it intends to ensure that its motoring
agencies have the appropriate skills and knowledge to maintain
and update testing and certification regimes.
61. It is important that the certification
and testing regimes keep pace with developments in technology.
These regimes have been used successfully in the past to encourage
the take up of particular technologies and they have a role to
play now. The DfT must bear in mind that new technologies are
already being deployed in production vehicles and that some of
the issues that the evidence to our inquiry and the review have
identified, such as clarification of liabilities, are already
Research and trials
62. In July 2014, the Business Secretary Vince Cable
MP launched a £10 million competition for UK cities to host
trials of driverless cars.
Innovate UK, which is an executive non-departmental public body
sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills,
was chosen to run the competition and trials. In December 2014,
it announced the three locations had been chosen to trial driverless
cars, namely Greenwich, Bristol and Milton Keynes/Coventry. Each
trial is expected to last for between 18 and 36 months. The trials
are expected to start in January 2015.
The Minister told us that "the process was completely external
to the Department
Importantly, there is both a lead industrial
partner and a local authority partner."
63. Professor Sampson told us that
the DfT agenda of seeing how these vehicles might
operate in real life seems to have turned into a BIS exercise
to encourage technology development by the automotive sector.
There's nothing wrong with that as an objective but it is not
going to supply much new information about how we might incorporate
highly or fully automated vehicles into UK traffic.
Professor Oliver Carsten, Professor of Transport
Safety, University of Leeds added:
The Government has rather belatedly woken up
to the promise of automated driving. But
I am not aware
of any attempt to consult the research community about the safety
challenges that need to be overcome in order to deliver safe automated
driving. The focus is more on showcase demonstrations than on
64. Witnesses discussed the research evidence for
the effectiveness of different systems. Professor Sampson said
that it was very difficult to research which technologies were
most effective in terms of reducing accidents, because of the
difficulties in running controlled trials of different features,
with sufficient numbers of vehicles.
Professor Carsten explained that the key struggle was with the
continual monitoring and evaluation of technology, and developing
an understanding of how casualty rates were affected over time
by different technologies.
He explained that while it was statistically possible to show
the safety benefits arising from car impact regulations, it was
"really hard" to do this in relation to other safety
the Future told us that there were many competing technologies
which could develop in different ways and which would need to
be trialled in the real world.
65. In Chapter 3, we considered the use of telematics
and black boxes to record information about when, where and how
a vehicle was being driven [see paragraph 33]. Policy makers will
need to take account of research on the impact of such technologies
on driver behaviour. It is apparent that telematics has an introduction
effectpeople drive well because they know the box is watchingbut
there is little research on whether that behavioural change is
sustained in the longer-term.
66. The public is understandably concerned about
the testing of new technologies, particularly any 'driverless'
technology. However, there are real advantages in making the UK
the place where the global automotive industry tests and develops
such technologies. We welcome the trials of driverless cars
announced in December 2014 and the leadership shown by Innovate
UK on ensuring the UK is well positioned to seize the commercial
opportunities created by new automotive technologies.
Showcasing the technology will be an important part of building
public confidence. Public confidence will depend on knowing
that these technologies can be deployed safely on real roads and
with all the unpredictability of real traffic flows.
67. We are concerned that Innovate UK's inevitable
focus on identifying commercial opportunities might lead to the
trials not testing issues such as safety and how autonomous vehicles
might be incorporated in UK traffic flows. We are confident that
the DfT and Minister understand that concern. In launching the
report, The pathway to driverless cars, the Minister stated
that "there's no point in a driverless car that can navigate
cones in a car park without navigating our busy streets".
We welcome the approach set out by the DfT in The
pathway to driverless cars and look forward to seeing the proposed
code of conduct.
68. Driver training must reflect new automotive technology.
Gerry Keaney, BVRLA, told us that
the technology is way ahead of the training.
What you have to do to pass a driving test today probably does
not include the use of adaptive cruise control, autonomous braking
devices or the various radar appliances in the car itself
If you use autonomous braking in the wrong way it can be very
dangerous. If you use it in the right way it is an absolutely
The Minister told us that "changes are now being
trialled in the new driving test proposals, for example, to try
to focus much more on practical skills and take out things like
reversing around a corner, which is not perhaps the most realistic
thing that people do."
69. As well as updating the regulatory framework,
the DfT will need to examine how drivers are taught and how driving
standards are monitored and enforced. New technologies open up
possibilities for monitoring driving and periodically testing
drivers, but those technologies also raise serious questions about
privacy. The DfT faces the challenge of ensuring that drivers
keep up with evolving technology and maintain an appropriate standard
of driving. The DfT should undertake research on emerging
models for driver training and the role new technologies might
play in improving driving standards. Such research would need
to address privacy, data ownership and data protection.
International standard setting
70. The motoring industry is a global business, and
autonomous and low emission vehicles will not be developed exclusively
for the UK market. Jaguar Land Rover stressed the importance of
co-ordinating policies at an international level, stating that
"given global trends in investment, and the setting of regulations
by major global markets, UK Government co-ordination with other
markets or influence in the EU is critical if it is to have any
role in shaping future standards."
71. TRL called on the Government to engage 'more
proactively and positively with Europe on matters of common interest'.
It stated that the Government's unilateral approach to standard
setting commercially disadvantages UK business.
Professor Carsten pointed out that "there is no evidence
of concerted Government involvement in international and European
The RAC Foundation noted that much of the legislation and regulation
that shapes motoring technology was defined at a European level
and that it was therefore important for the UK to continue to
help shape this and to ensure that national interests were given
72. eCall is a European Commission initiative. It
involves the mandatory installation of a device in all new vehicles
which will call the emergency services in the event of a serious
road accident. The European Commission initially aimed to implement
eCall throughout the EU by the end of 2015. It now believes that
eCall will be implemented by early 2018 at the latest.
73. The Minister explained Government policy on eCall:
According to our analysis, the benefit of making
it [eCall] mandatory in all new cars does not justify the cost
of implementing it; I believe it was something like £370-odd
million. There was a view that, given the increasing responsiveness
of our road networkin a way, smart motorways do the same
thing, which is to make sure that the emergency services are alerted
to any accidentswe did not feel that it was appropriate
for the UK. However, we are entirely happy for other member states
to implement it, if it is appropriate for their own networksperhaps
if they have a less responsive emergency service, for example.
We do not support the measure, because it is not cost-effective
for us, but we are very happy for it to be implemented elsewhere.
Even if one accepts the Minister's argument that
the excellence of the road network and emergency services renders
the introduction of eCall otiose in the UKthis argument
may not hold in remote rural locationswe note that a sizeable
proportion of UK motorists drive in other EU member states. In
2013, for example, some 6.7 million accompanied passenger vehiclesin
other words, cars and minibusestravelled between the UK
and overseas destinations.
74. In supporting the Minister's argument for non-engagement
by the UK Government with the eCall initiative, Ian Yarnold, International
Vehicle Standards, DfT, pointed out that "manufacturers would
pass the cost on to the consumer."
We agree with Mr Yarnold that motor manufacturers are likely to
pass the cost of introducing eCall on to consumers. However, we
question whether international automobile manufacturers will differentiate
between consumers in EU member states that have implemented eCall
and those that have not in passing on the costs. In other words,
UK drivers may well pay for eCall without benefitting from it.
75. The Government should engage positively in
setting European and international standards to allow UK manufacturers
to exploit new technology by developing products that are suitable
for export and to secure the benefits of new technology for UK
Other barriers to adoption
76. Many new safety systems are already technically
feasible, but have been held back because of issues relating to
implementation, cost, effectiveness and public acceptability.
Some driver assistance technologies are available in higher-end
vehicles but are currently considered too expensive for cheaper
vehicles where competition on price is intense and so extra features
are minimised. Other systems have been held back because of Government
policy. PACTS told us that it was positive about the potential
for new technologies to deliver substantial safety improvements,
but that policy rather than technology was often the limiting
factor. It pointed out that safety technologies, such as Intelligent
Speed Adaptation (ISA), had been available but rejected in the
Carsten pointed to research evidence for the predicted safety
impact of ISA, which indicated that it could lead to a significant
reduction in fatal crashes, and said that the fact that the UK
had not moved ahead with ISA deployment was "a major missed
opportunity for a very substantial improvement in road safety".
Brake, the road safety charity, urged the Government to produce
a national digital speed limit map to exploit the potential of
ISA technology to prevent speeding.
The DfT should set out how it will address barriers to the
adoption of new technology other than the regulatory ones it has
identified in The pathway to driverless cars.
77. The question of a driver or owner's civil and
criminal liability for accidents and offences involving their
vehicle will need to be settled if the public are to have the
confidence that they will need to purchase cars fitted with new
technologies. Resolving such questions will require further research
and co-operation between Government, the insurance industry, motor
manufacturers and organisations representing motorists, hauliers
and public transport operators, cyclists and pedestrians.
105 Q16 Back
Institution of Mechanical Engineers (MOF 034) Back
Thatcham Research (MOF 023) para 2.1 Back
The Guardian, Germany creates laws for driverless cars, 1 February
Department for Transport, Driverless cars in the UK: a regulatory review,
11 February 2015 Back
Department for Transport , UK Government fast tracks driverless cars,
20 July 2014 Back
Innovate UK, Driverless cars: 4 cities get green light for everyday trials,
3 December 2014 Back
Professor Eric Sampson (MOF046) Back
Professor Oliver Carsten (MOF041) para 5 Back
Department for Transport, Launch of 'The pathway to driverless cars' report,
11 February 2015 Back
Jaguar Land Rover (MOF036) para 4.1 Back
TRL Ltd (MOF007) paras 38 to 39 Back
Professor Oliver Carsten (MOF041) para 6 Back
RAC Foundation (MOF 021) Back
European Commission, eCall: Time saved = lives saved Back
Department for Transport, Sea Passenger Statistics: 2013, February
Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (MOF 047) Back
Brake, the road safety charity, (MOF 003) Back