Revolutionising transportation: Policy recommendations for connected and self-driving vehicles

The National Infrastructure Commission has been tasked by the Government to provide recommendations on the necessary policies for the implementation of self-driving vehicles.

In August 2022, the Government announced its plans for the UK to witness the introduction of self-driving vehicles by 2025.

The objective is to enhance transportation of people and goods within the country while establishing an early commercial market for these technologies.

To facilitate this market, the Government aims to establish a robust regulatory, legislative, and safety framework through the proposed Automated Vehicles Bill.

The future of transportation

The transport secretary has mentioned recently that the potential inclusion of cars on certain UK roads could happen by the end of 2026. According to the Government, automation and connectivity play a crucial role in revolutionising the movement of people and goods across the country.

They believe that this technology offers substantial opportunities to enhance road safety, alleviate traffic congestion, improve the reliability and accessibility of transportation services, and ultimately boost productivity.

they explained: “The way we plan, operate and maintain our infrastructure is crucial to realising these benefits.

“Uncertainty is inherent in any emerging technology. However, uncertainty should not be a reason to do nothing, as to do so may result in missed opportunities to realise strategic objectives.

“Moreover, many of the actions taken to support self-driving vehicles will have benefits for many existing vehicles, which may further support the case for action.”

The study will primarily focus on the incremental steps and interventions that may be necessary on the road network to promote wider adoption and reap the desired benefits.

This will serve as the foundation for an adaptive strategy, which will explore additional policy and infrastructure requirements beyond the initial regulatory, safety, and legislative framework being developed by the government.

These efforts aim to realise the government's vision for connected and automated mobility (CAM) by 2025.

The Government has requested the Commission to take into account various factors when making its recommendations. These include assessing the need for additional policies, governance, and infrastructure. The Commission is also tasked with considering the potential use of private cars, taxis, and private hire vehicles, as well as examining the use cases and infrastructure requirements related to public transport, freight, and logistics.

Furthermore, the study will explore the potential benefits for both conventionally driven or unconnected vehicles and those that are connected and self-driving. It will assess the benefits that can be realised in the near-term as well as when new technologies become widely available.

While conducting this work, the Government has specified that the Commission should not revisit the legislative, legal, and regulatory requirements already established for the adoption of connected and automated mobility (CAM) by the Government. Additionally, the study will not delve into how changes affecting vehicle production or service provision align with the UK's industrial strategy.

Although the Commission will acknowledge any technical challenges associated with CAM technologies, it is not within the scope of this study to provide solutions for these challenges unless they are relevant to its infrastructure focus.

To ensure comprehensive research, the Commission will collaborate with other Government bodies such as the Centre for Connected and Automated Vehicles, the Department for Transport (DfT), and National Highways. Additionally, it will engage extensively with stakeholders throughout the study.

The Commission is expected to deliver a final report in approximately 12 months, with an interim report scheduled for release in the summer of 2024.

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