The BBC recently released an article claiming the UK hopes to become the world leader in autonomous, or self-driving, automobile technology by the end of the decade. In doing so, the British government will pass a code of practice in the next few months to regulate driverless technology. Close to 30 million dollars will be invested in different research facilities across the country, which will develop and test autonomous vehicle reliability, safety and efficiency. By 2017, the government will reevaluate the regulations and determine the course of action for further funding for technological development.

Timeline for Driverless Technology

While it may be some time before driverless cars get any actual road time in the UK or elsewhere in the world, British Transport Minister Claire Perry said she believes driverless cars are the future for transportation: “Driverless vehicle technology has the potential to be a real game-change on the UK’s roads, altering the face of motoring in the most fundamental of ways and delivering major benefits for road safety, social inclusion, emissions and congestion.”

Driverless Technology in the United States

The US was the first country to introduce legislation permitting the testing of autonomous vehicles. Currently, four states and Washington D.C. permit the operation of driverless cars. The first license for a self driving car was granted in 2012 for the engineers behind the Google Self Driving Car and Google Chauffeur programming software. At the end of December 2014, Google released a version of the self driving car that did not include pedals or a steering wheel.

Autonomous Cars and Driver Safety

But what does this mean for the safety of those riding in the driverless cars, alongside the driverless cars on the highway, or walking in front of the driverless cars across an intersection? While many autonomous vehicles are currently only operated by one of the technology’s experts, it will soon become time to pass the reigns onto less educated drivers in the hopes that autonomous cars take over the roadways. And with less educated users, what should happen and who should be to blame in accidents involving driverless cars? The vehicle owner or the manufacturer? In terms of pedestrian traffic, what kind of reflexes would the machines have programmed for busy urban cityscapes, where citizens are likely to jaywalk? These are all important questions that we look forward to learning more about over the next few months. If you have any experience with autonomous technology or driverless car technology, our car and truck accident law firm would love to hear what you have to say!