Driverless cars unlikely in London before 2030s, says committee


Connected and autonomous vehicles are unlikely to come to London’s roads until at least the 2030s, according to a new report.

The London Assembly Transport Committee published its report – Future Transport: How is London responding to technological innovation? – with a warning that Transport for London (TfL) needs to predict and prepare for changes in technology, such as driverless cars and drones.

The report acknowledged that TfL faces a difficult challenge in planning for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), given varying predictions about when and how CAVs will be used on London’s roads.

“Nobody knows the likely timescale and extent of the introduction of CAVs on London’s roads,” said the report. “Predictions vary considerably, and depend on definitions of autonomy.”

The committee also warned of the risk of extending congestion by simply replacing private, human-driven cars with connected and autonomous vehicles.

The most effective strategy for TfL is likely to be to embed sustainable transport choices ahead of the rollout of connected and autonomous vehicles, found the committee. “Shared usage of CAVs is likely to be the most sustainable way of harnessing this technology in London,” noted the report.

The committee suggested that TfL builds on existing car sharing services in the city to increase car sharing as driverless cars are introduced.

The report also recommended that the Mayor, TfL and the government consider the potential development and impact of autonomous bus technology.

In particular, the committee highlighted the need to address safety issues and a potential reduction in customer service for bus passengers if changes are made to the way bus services are staffed.

“Autonomous vehicles could make roads safer,” said Keith Prince AM, Chairman of the London Assembly Transport Committee.

“The opportunity to improve mobility for millions of Londoners is here but it will require proper planning, transparency and accountability, as well as cooperation with government, boroughs and development companies,” continued Prince.