The Road to Fully Autonomous Vehicles in the UK: A Realistic 2025 Target Date

The Centre for Connected Autonomous and Vehicles (CCAV), a government-funded research initiative, believes that fully autonomous vehicles in the UK could become a reality by 2025. In the industry, this level of autonomy is known as Level 4-5, where no human driver is necessary. However, some argue that this era began decades ago.

Currently, autonomous vehicle operations are limited to controlled environments and segregated infrastructure. For example, since 2011, Heathrow Airport has offered autonomous pod connections between Terminal 5 and passenger car parks. However, within the next two years, it is possible that driverless vehicles will be able to operate on main roads like any other vehicle.

In contrast to the UK, California has already allowed driverless vehicles on its roads, taking a more relaxed regulatory stance. However, the reception has been mixed. For instance, Wayve vehicles have been seen blocking fire engines at busy intersections because they are not yet programmed to pull over like a human driver would.

The introduction of autonomous vehicles raises several questions pertaining to safety, required infrastructure, liability in accidents, and who truly benefits. Buro Happold, in partnership with Autonomy, addresses these questions in its new Intelligence Report. Rather than focusing solely on the vehicle technology readiness, the report takes a holistic view on the readiness and optimal usage of autonomous vehicles, particularly in London.

The report explores how London, along with other cities, could embrace autonomous vehicles. One envisioned scenario involves Transport for London (TfL) playing a central role in incorporating autonomous vehicles into its multimodal offering through a shared autonomous vehicle operation accessed via an easy-to-use app. The iconic nature of the TfL branding may help generate public trust in autonomous vehicles from an early stage.

In conclusion, the rollout of fully autonomous vehicles in the UK by 2025 is within reach, and while there are challenges to overcome, such as regulatory concerns and public acceptance, the potential benefits make it a promising prospect for the future of transportation.

– Centre for Connected Autonomous and Vehicles (CCAV)
– Buro Happold and Autonomy Intelligence Report