UK committee to question Government ministers on driverless vehicles

View of red and white car lights on UK motorway at night

As it continues its inquiry into the future uses of driverless vehicles, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee will this week hear evidence from two government departments and a number of leading academics.

Turning its attention to official policy, the committee will explore with ministers how driverless vehicles fit into the Government's wider transport strategy and policy. 

It will also question witnesses about what the Government is doing to ensure that knowledge gained during the development of driverless cars is used to benefit all sectors. 

In addition, committee members will examine the socio-economic aspects of the deployment of self-driving cars with the academics giving evidence, in a bid to find out how much is really understood about human interaction with driverless technologies.

The committee will hear evidence from a number of witnesses during its session on 22 November:

  • Professor Sarah Sharples, Associate Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research & Knowledge Exchange, Professor of Human Factors, Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham
  • Professor Natasha Merat, Professor in Human Factors of Transport Systems, Institute for Transport Studies (ITS), University of Leeds
  • Mr Andy Graham, Director of White Willow Consulting and Founding Chair of ITS (UK)
  • Rt Hon John Hayes MP, Minister of State, Department for Transport
  • Mr Nick Hurd MP, Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

During the first part of the session, when committee members question the academics, they are likely to explore the following areas:

  • How information might be obtained on drivers' attitudes to using, and buying, driverless vehicles or sharing the streets with them
  • How much is known and understood about the behaviour and interaction of people with the technology used for autonomous vehicles.

When they question ministers about how driverless vehicles fit into the Government's broader transport strategy, committee members are expected to ask about:

  • What benefits and drawbacks the Government expects from the deployment of highly automated or autonomous vehicles in all sectors in the UK
  • How the Government will ensure that the possible increased convenience of driverless vehicles will not increase car journeys at the expense of more active modes, such as walking and cycling
  • Whether there is a case to extend the role of the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles to include other Government departments, ensuring that knowledge gained in one sector can be shared elsewhere.

The committee has already held three oral evidence sessions during its inquiry into driverless vehicles:

Once the committee has concluded its inquiry, it expects to report back to the House of Lords with its recommendations in early 2017.