Is London ready for driverless cars, asks committee

Traffic Jam in london with red double decker buses and big ben in distance

The House of Lords Select Committee will continue hearing evidence from witnesses next week as part of its inquiry into driverless cars and their future use on the UK’s roads.

Turning its attention to the nation’s capital, the committee will explore the implications of deploying driverless vehicles on roads and motorways in London. It will also consider their wider deployment around the country.

The committee has invited a number of witnesses to give evidence, including: 

  • Michael Hurwitz, Director of Transport Innovation, Transport for London
  • Darren Capes, Transport System Manager, City of York Council
  • Mike Wilson, Chief Highways Engineer, Highways England
  • Steve Gooding, Director, RAC Foundation
  • Charlie Henderson, Partner, PA Consulting Group

Committee members will ask the witnesses about issues such as whether driverless cars could reduce congestion or accidents, and whether the arrival of driverless technologies might eliminate the need for traffic signals. 

The committee is also keen to explore how data gathered from self-driving vehicles could be used to benefit the public.

In addition, it will look at which areas of regulation should be the responsibility of the government or transport authorities.
The first part of the session – with representatives from Transport for London and City of York Council – is likely to explore the following areas:

  • The benefits and drawbacks of the deployment of highly automated vehicles in UK cities
  • Who will own the wealth of data generated by driverless vehicles
  • Whether city governments will want to access that data for network management or other purposes
  • Whether driverless cars will remove the need for traffic signals and white lines on the UK’s roads.

With the second set of witnesses, committee members are likely to ask about:

  • The opportunities, benefits and potential problems of using automated vehicles for freight traffic
  • The key challenges for the wide-scale deployment of autonomous vehicles in the UK
  • Which of the regulatory issues resulting from the deployment of autonomous vehicles (e.g. insurance, liability, technical standards and driver licensing) should be addressed by the Government nationally or internationally, and which should be left to transport authorities or the market.

The committee has already conducted two evidence sessions as part of its inquiry, questioning government officials and academics in the first session, and representatives of the European Commission, ITS Europe, SMMT and the UK’s three driverless car trials during the second one.

It expects to report to the House of Lords with its recommendations in early 2017.