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UK allows driverless cars on roads

Modified On Jul 31, 2014 12:30 PM By Rahul

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Fully driverless cars are an exciting glimpse of the future with substantial potential to improve road safety – but the global car fleet has a long way to go before it makes the most of existing autonomous technology already tested, proven and readily available, says insurers’ research centre, Thatcham Research.

UK allows driverless cars on roads

Thatcham is a not-for-profit research centre, funded by the insurance industry and with the primary aim of containing or reducing the cost of claims in the areas of vehicle safety, security and repair. It has a fully equipped repair technology centre, a Euro NCAP approved crash facility as well as an adult and apprentice automotive academy, all based at Thatcham in Berkshire.

“Today’s announcement that the Government will allow driverless cars on UK roads in just five months’ time sets an ambitious target,” says Peter Shaw, Chief Executive of Thatcham Research.  “We fully support the automation of safety features such as braking/steering where the vehicle intervenes to avoid a crash  - but we must recognise that fully driverless cars require a great deal more comprehensive testing and development before they can be made commercially available in the UK – or anywhere in the world.”
He goes on to say: “We therefore support the controlled testing that the government is encouraging and are monitoring the results with great interest. In the meantime we are calling on the UK Government to materially support proposed financial incentives designed to encourage more car makers to fit existing Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) technology as standard, and save more than 1,200 lives over the next ten years alone.” Research from Volvo indicates that <20 mph shunts account for 75% of all crashes – the vast majority of these could be avoided if all vehicles had AEB.

Currently around 20% of new cars in the UK have an AEB system available. With some form of incentive, 100 per cent of the UK new car fleet could be fitted with AEB by 2025, which could reduce over 17,000 deaths and serious injuries on the UK’s roads in a decade from 2015.

Thatcham has been researching and testing AEB systems on behalf of insurers for the last 3 years and has carried out hundreds of tests on a wide range of new vehicles.

“The evidence from our testing is undeniable, and combined with a growing body of real world research and evidence, we firmly believe that AEB and other ADAS (Advanced Driver Assist Systems) have a critical role to play in safer roads for the future. Fully driverless cars may take a while longer to gain widespread acceptance.”

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