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British Government releases rules for Self-Driving Cars in UK28-Jul-2015

As we continue to drive ourselves slowly towards the future, the technology comes at a cost. The British Department for Transport (DfT) have not long released their guidance publications for Automated Vehicle Technologies, set for testing driverless cars on the public highway.

Similarly to the existing laws of more traditional vehicles, self-driving cars must have a human driver inside that can take over if necessary, who must be fully licenced in the UK with valid and in-date insurance. More specifically, each self-driving car allowed on the public highway must undergo rigorous testing on private roads before it so much as sees public roads, and any accompanying driver in the vehicle is required to have extensive training and ‘skills over and above those of drivers of conventional vehicles’; to have a thorough understanding of the technology used in the car, including the switch between conventional manual and the new ‘automated mode’.

There are, of course, the added concerns. As great as it is that we’re moving forward with technology as quickly as we are, motorists of self-driving cars must take extra precautions, including being ‘conscious of their appearance’ as to not confuse or un-nerve other road users by looking like they’re driving when in fact, they’re not. As counterproductive as this may seem to many, other issues such as talking on the phone, taking the occasional drink and relaxing a little too much for a supposedly alert driver have been brought to light. This code of practice also highlights the suggestion that highway authorities band together and are alerted of testing zones.

Of course, in popular culture, Google have been using ‘Driverless Cars’ since 2012 in the United States, and despite the traffic accidents, are constantly campaigning and developing driverless car prototype systems. Fortunately for traditional road users, the vast majority of self-driving cars in the UK are refined to testing in parkland and private facilities, including the Meridian Shuttle and the Lutz Pod.

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