Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: The future? Contents

Summary of conclusions and recommendations

Governance and coordination

1.Autonomous vehicles are being used, or have the potential to be used, in the roads, marine, agricultural and other sectors. But there is no clear central coordination of strategy or information sharing across the different sectors. The Government must broaden its focus so that its work on connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) cuts across all sectors and does not focus so heavily on road vehicles. This will require greater coordination across Government and the involvement of more departments in the work of the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV). (Paragraph 41)

2.Whilst we note that the Government will revisit the idea of a RAS Leadership Council through the process of the Industrial Strategy, action to coordinate activities across the robotics sector, including CAV, is more urgent than this timescale would suggest. We call on the Government to establish such a Council as soon as possible, to ensure that technology and expertise is shared and the maximum economic benefit for the UK is achieved. (Paragraph 45)

3.The RAS Leadership Council must take the lead in this area and the Government should complement the work of this Council by taking action only in areas where the RAS Leadership Council advises it that Government action is required or where the Leadership Council is not acting. (Paragraph 46)

4.We agree with the House of Commons Transport Committee that the Government has not implemented a coherent, joined up transport strategy. We recommend that the Government should bring forward a wider transport strategy that places the development and implementation of CAV in the context of wider policy goals, such as increased use of public transport, and the reduction of congestion and pollution. (Paragraph 53)

5.The Government must continue to engage with the insurance industry and other stakeholders to ensure that proposals to protect victims where an autonomous vehicle is involved in a crash while in automated mode are workable, timely and appropriate. The Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill is unlikely to receive Royal Assent in the current Parliamentary session therefore the Government should stand ready to reintroduce the Bill in the next Parliamentary session. (Paragraph 59)

6.Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) are responsible for the vast majority of UK roads and, together with the Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain, need training, briefing and guidance on standards for the roads sector relating to the deployment of CAV. LTAs must also be able to pool resources in order to minimise duplication of work and maximise potential benefits of CAV. (Paragraph 66)

7.We recommend that the Government should set up and chair a forum that will allow LTAs to share knowledge and expertise on CAV and to be involved as advisers on the direction of future trials and research. (Paragraph 67)

8.The Government must continue to take action to close the engineering and digital skills gap to ensure that the UK can benefit from the emerging CAV technologies. We welcome the focus on skills in the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper and urge the Government to find innovative solutions to this problem. These might include provisions such as those proposed in the Higher Education and Research Bill which aim to make it simpler and quicker for innovative and specialist providers to set up, award degrees and compete alongside existing institutions. (Paragraph 73)

Potential benefits of CAV

9.CAV have the potential to increase accessibility and mobility for those less mobile or those unable to use traditional vehicles, such as the elderly or disabled. However, they may not be suitable for some people with mobility problems, if, for example, they are unable to get into or out of a car without help. Furthermore, these benefits will only be realised with full automation and if the vehicles are both affordable and acceptable to prospective users. (Paragraph 80)

10.CAV have the potential to lower the number of road fatalities. But the eradication, or near eradication, of human error will only be realised with full automation. (Paragraph 87)

11.CAV are not the only way to reduce road casualties. There are other means by which to achieve this and we urge the Government not to lose sight of these other possibilities. (Paragraph 87)

12.Our evidence indicates that platooning of trucks could be an early example of CAV deployment on roads and the Government should ensure that it carries out an early evaluation of the potential applications of connected and autonomous larger vehicles used for freight and logistics. The Government must ensure that a clear business case for platooning—and indeed for any CAV application—has been made before significant investment is made. (Paragraph 92)

13.The theoretical potential of CAV to reduce traffic congestion varies depending on the level of vehicle autonomy and the penetration rate. While we cannot say with any certainty what the impact on congestion will be, it is possible to imagine a situation of total gridlock as CAV crawl around city centres. It is important that the right policy decisions relating to CAV are made in order to reduce the likelihood of this occurring. (Paragraph 96)

14.Whilst some of our evidence has suggested that CAV could have huge economic benefits, we are not convinced that the statistics provided have been properly substantiated. (Paragraph 102)

15.We recommend that the Government should commission a detailed cost-benefit analysis to provide a realistic indication of the economic benefits CAV could provide in all sectors, differentiating clearly between the different applications of CAV, actual monetary gains from deployment, estimated job creation and social benefits. This will help the Government decide where the focus of its efforts should be. (Paragraph 103)

16.It is unclear whether CAV will lead to job creation or job losses overall. The cost-benefit analysis that we have recommended should include detailed consideration of the impact of CAV on jobs; specifically whether this will include job losses, job creation or job shifts. (Paragraph 108)

17.There is little hard evidence to substantiate the potential benefits and disadvantages of CAV because most of them are at a prototype or testing stage. Furthermore, as with any new technology or advancements, there may be unforeseen benefits or disadvantages that have not yet presented themselves. (Paragraph 110)

18.Nonetheless, the UK’s ambition should be to take the lead with CAV in areas where a business case can be made which shows a clear early advantage accruing to the UK. (Paragraph 111)

Further research

19.In considering the necessary future research it is important that the Government plays to the UK’s strengths and that the research is not carried out, commissioned or funded by the Government where it is better carried out by industry or other stakeholders. (Paragraph 114)

20.The Government should not need to invest or take the lead in development of autonomous cars—this is best left to industry. However, the Government should continue to invest in the fundamental scientific research in robotics and information technology that underpins autonomous cars and other CAV, and also the social, human factors and network management problems that must be understood for deployment. (Paragraph 114)

21.We are disappointed that the Government has delayed making a decision on a new flagship test facility. A delay is particularly damaging because CAV development is a fast moving area. (Paragraph 120)

22.The Government must put together a comprehensive testing and research offer for CAV to attract manufacturers and academics to the UK immediately. This should include one or more large scale testing environments covering real world urban and rural environments. (Paragraph 121)

23.CAV could have negative implications for drivers’ competence, making drivers complacent and overly reliant on technology. This is of particular concern in emergency situations, where a driver may react slowly to taking back control of a vehicle. It may be the case that for Level 3 vehicles the risks will be too great to tolerate. The risk of complacency also extends to other road-users who will interact with CAV, such as pedestrians and cyclists. Further research is necessary to understand these risks, including possible measures to address them. (Paragraph 131)

24.We recommend that the Government should give priority to commissioning work to understand the main social and behavioural questions relating to CAV, in particular answering those questions identified by its own scoping study. This work should build on international research in this area. Furthermore Innovate UK and Government departments should ensure that studying behavioural aspects is an integral part of trials they fund, including access to simulation facilities if necessary. (Paragraph 132)

25.We welcome the modelling work commissioned by the Government. This should be a starting point for further work on mixed fleet modelling to inform policy development. (Paragraph 137)

26.This work should help to counter the possible disadvantages and negative effects of managing a mixed fleet of autonomous and non-autonomous vehicles. The research on human factors must feed in to the modelling work so that as more is understood about human interactions with CAV, the modelling work can be refined to give more accurate results. (Paragraph 137)

27.We were surprised that the work the Government has commissioned on micro-scale modelling was not more widely known by our witnesses. The Government should take steps to ensure future work in this area is more prominently planned and shared with stakeholders including LTAs. (Paragraph 138)

28.The potential for improved crop production and reduced adverse impacts on the environment by the use of CAV in agriculture is considerable. The Government should fund appropriate R&D once a business case is made which demonstrates the advantages which will accrue. (Paragraph 141)

International cooperation, regulation and standards

29.We recommend that funding is allocated for cybersecurity of CAV through the upcoming Cyber Science and Technology Strategy. Cybersecurity should also form an integral part of the Government’s review of the regulatory framework for CAV. (Paragraph 150)

30.The Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) is well placed to take a coordinating role with regard to cybersecurity for CAV. It should involve the newly established National Cyber Security Centre in this work as well as external stakeholders and experts. (Paragraph 151)

31.An international effort is necessary to tackle the risks associated with cybersecurity, which are likely to rise—especially on a global scale—as the use of CAV increases. The Government could lead on this, in order to facilitate the establishment of global standards. (Paragraph 152)

32.Highways England and Local Transport Authorities should jointly engage with the industry to examine the potential for ensuring that new infrastructure can be future-proofed and does not need expensive retro-fitting. (Paragraph 162)

33.The Government must take action with Highways England to improve digital connectivity, removing ‘not-spots’ on British roads—in particular on the strategic road network—in order to realise the benefits of connected vehicles, which, according to the European Commission, are likely to become available in the next three years. This can be done through the Digital Economy Bill and the implementation of the Universal Service Obligation to create a ubiquitous digital network. It will also require work at an international level to ensure the development of international standards relating to connected vehicles. (Paragraph 163)

34.It is essential that any data gathered from CAV are used in accordance with data protection law. We welcome the fact that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has undertaken initial work with vehicle manufacturers, and is launching its own call for evidence. (Paragraph 169)

35.However, the meaning of personal data is unclear in the context of CAV. It will be important to achieve privacy for individuals and communities, while using data to achieve efficiency and safety of CAV operations. Data relating to an individual’s CAV in terms of position, speed and performance on the road cannot be regarded as entirely personal—such data is needed for public benefit if a CAV system is to operate as a whole. Good data governance will therefore be needed to secure appropriate protection of personal information while safely using and linking open and non-sensitive data. Distinctions will need to be made between commercially sensitive data owned by technology providers and open data. (Paragraph 170)

36.We recommend that the Government liaise with the ICO, automotive manufacturers and other interested parties, including international partners, to ensure that CAV and the data they produce comply with the relevant privacy and data protection legislation and that this legislation is appropriate and workable, and keeps pace with the technology. (Paragraph 171)

37.We welcome the Government’s work at an international level to draw up standards for data retention in the event of an accident involving CAV. These standards will ensure that manufacturers provide access to the necessary data in the case of an accident. The Government must also ensure that the Police and the wider criminal justice system have the necessary skills, tools and access to be able to appropriately interrogate the stored data. (Paragraph 175)

38.The increased development and deployment of CAV raises ethical issues. The Government should keep this in mind as it takes forward its programme of regulatory reform for CAV, including taking a leading role in the development of international standards to address the ethical issues. These standards will need to ensure that companies are transparent about the way vehicles deal with these issues. (Paragraph 186)

39.We welcome the UK’s leading role in the development of international regulation for marine autonomous vehicles and encourage the Government to continue to drive forward this initiative. There is potential for significant early benefit to accrue to the UK once a new international regulatory framework is in place. (Paragraph 189)

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