Self-driving cars that don’t require motorists to concentrate on the road will be used in the UK from 2026, the transport secretary confirmed.
MP Mark Harper said the technology has “a huge number of potential uses” including boosting road safety and making it easier for disabled people to travel independently.
The Automated Vehicles Bill to create a set of laws for using autonomous vehicles was introduced into Parliament last month.
“The legislation is going through Parliament at the moment so hopefully we’ll get that through Parliament by the end of 2024,” Harper told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“Probably by as early as 2026, people will start seeing some elements of these cars that have full self-driving capabilities being rolled out.
“We already know the technology works. You can see the technology being rolled out with a safety driver in place. I’ve seen the technology being used in California for example, without a safety driver, so in full, autonomous mode.
“This technology exists, it works and what we’re doing is putting in place the proper legislation so that people can have full confidence in the safety of this technology, which I think is one of the important things we’ve got to do.”
Asked if people will be able to travel in self-driving vehicles “with your hands off the wheel, doing your emails” in 2026, Mr Harper replied: “Yes, and I think that’s when companies are expecting – in 2026, during that year – that we’ll start seeing this technology rolled out.”
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