Self-driving cars expected on UK’s roads by 2021

Transport secretary Chris Grayling in a Tesla S car ahead of his speech at the Association of British Insurers autonomous vehicles conference. Picture: PA
Transport secretary Chris Grayling in a Tesla S car ahead of his speech at the Association of British Insurers autonomous vehicles conference. Picture: PA
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Self-driving cars are expected to be on Britain’s roads by 2021, the Transport Secretary will say.

Chris Grayling will use a speech to the Association of British Insurers to outline his ambition for the UK to lead the driverless car “revolution”.

He is also expected to explain how he believes the new technology could transform the lives of elderly and disabled people who are currently unable to drive.

Mr Grayling will say: “We’ve seen nothing in our lifetimes that can compare with the motoring revolution that’s just around the corner.

“A revolution that will transform the way we travel, the way we buy, run and power our cars, and the way we insure them.

“There are major opportunities in this fast emerging market for those who are best prepared.

“It is estimated that the market for autonomous vehicles could be worth £28 billion to the UK by 2035.

“That’s why we are so committed to becoming a global leader in the design, development and use of autonomous vehicles.”

READ MORE: How far away are we from truly self-driving cars?

The Department for Transport said a survey found that 96% of older people believe a self-driving car would help them get out of the house more often, and a third of people with a disability say it would give them greater independence.

Mr Grayling will tell the audience at the City of London event: “The potential benefits of these new technologies for human mobility - and for wider society - are tremendously exciting.

“Many who can’t currently drive will be able to take to the road.

“Elderly people or people with disabilities which prevent them from travelling today will discover a new sense of freedom and independence.”

The Transport Secretary will say that the Government is already taking steps to be at the forefront of developing this technology.

A new compulsory insurance framework that covers automated vehicles will be mandated as part of measures in the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill which is going through Parliament.

“This will ensure that victims have quick and easy access to compensation,” Mr Grayling will claim.

A “cluster of excellence” is to be created along the M40 corridor to develop driverless car technology using existing testing centres in Birmingham, Coventry, Oxford, Milton Keynes and London.

An RAC poll in July found that two out of five motorists believe the Government should concentrate on improving roads instead of supporting the growth of autonomous vehicles.

The survey of almost 2,200 drivers found that 39% want work such as redesigning congestion pinch points and repairing potholes to be given preference.

More than a quarter (27%) of respondents felt money would also be better spent on health or education, while 17% support investment in driverless cars but believe it “should not be a priority”.