LONDON, Dec 27 (Reuters) – Self-driving cars could be on some British roads by 2026, the country’s transport minister Mark Harper said on Wednesday.
Cars with full self-driving technology are not currently allowed on Britain’s roads but the government’s Automated Vehicles (AV) legislation is going through parliament, meaning that a legal framework for them should be in place by the end of 2024, said Harper.
“Probably by as early as 2026 people will start seeing some elements of these cars that have full self-driving capabilities being rolled out,” Harper told BBC Radio.
“It’ll be gradual…so there’ll be companies rolling it out to be used in certain places.”
Critics of the technology, which has been trialled in the United States, say that the vehicles can cause crashes, and in California, regulators told General Motors’ (GM.N) driverless car unit Cruise to remove its vehicles from state roads after an accident in October.
Britain’s Harper said that the technology had the ability to improve road safety.
“Everything I’ve seen about automated vehicles and self driving technologies, it’s very focused on keeping people safe,” he said.
Under the legislation announced in November, Britain plans for the makers rather than the owners of self-driving cars to be legally liable for any crashes, and the government has said the bill will protect users and support safety in the AV industry.