Engineering body encourages vehicle autonomy

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has issued a report calling for more encouragement for driverless cars and vehicle autonomy usage.

Within the report headed by Philippa Oldham, the Head of Transport at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) in the UK, both the Government and industry participants are being called upon to encourage further and more rapid uptake of vehicle automation.

One aspect of automated driving that requires urgent action, according to the report, is legislation which is seen as a current stumbling block along with insurance, the development of which is likely to be overtaken by the technical issues which are rapidly being surmounted.

With forecasts of a reduced number of accidents, improved productivity and increased trade amounting to up to £51 billion a year for the UK economy, Philippa Oldham predicts huge benefits relating to autonomous technology.

Commenting on the safety benefits alone, Philippa said, “Currently, 95% of all crashes happen due to driver error, so it makes sense for Government, industry and academia to redouble efforts to look at how we phase out human involvement in driving vehicles.”

However, the task is not simple and more action is needed from the Government to integrate driverless vehicles into the current UK transport network, including changes to road signage and road markings to enable driverless vehicles to operate safely.

Going further into the kinds of changes needed in order to accommodate driverless cars on UK roads, Philippa went on to describe the role that manufacturers and the after sales infrastructure needs to develop too with clarification required on how technical upgrades and repairs will be carried out as required to ensure the vehicles remain safe and roadworthy.

Touching on the insurance aspects of vehicle autonomy, Philippa concluded, “Much more work needs to be done to clarify regulation and insurance issues, such as where liability lies in case of an accident.”

IMechE autonomy recommendations:

* Instigate a public consultation involving legislators, regulators, the vehicle industry and the public
* Involve the sales and service network in delivering information to vehicle buyers
* Examine the infrastructure needed to support a mixed road network populated by autonomous and conventional vehicles

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Autonomous Vehicles

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