UK House of Lords reality check on self-driving cars

  • April 15, 2017

A new report published by the UK’s upper house of parliament has warned that the safety and economic benefits of automated vehicles are unproven and urges the government to “not lose sight” of other possibilities to reduce road casualties.

The sixty page report for the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee says the government needs to implement a ‘joined-up’, wider transport strategy that puts the development of autonomous vehicles within the context of broader goals. The current approach, focussing on autonomous passenger cars is too narrow, according to the authors.

The report also warns that the economic and congestion benefits of driverless cars have “not been properly substantiated” and that “it is possible to imagine a situation of total gridlock as [driverless cars] crawl around city centres”.

Regarding ethical choices made by autonomous vehicles, the report urges the UK government to take a leading role in developing international standards and ensure that companies “are transparent about the way vehicles deal with these issues”.

Fundamentally, the report concludes that “as with any new technology or advancements, there may be unforeseen benefits or disadvantages that have not yet presented themselves.”