The Government must broaden its focus so that its work on Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) cuts across all sectors and does not focus so heavily on road vehicles. Early benefits are likely to come in sectors such as marine and agriculture therefore the Government must not allow media attention around driverless cars to cause it to lose sight of the many potential benefits that CAV can provide in areas outside the roads sector.
The report finds that there is no clear central coordination of strategy or information sharing across the different sectors that could benefit from Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) technology, or robotics more broadly, such as marine, road and agriculture. The Government must take steps to ensure that information is shared across sectors, including the establishment of a Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) Leadership Council as soon as possible to play a key role in developing the strategy for CAV. This will ensure expertise and knowledge is shared across all sectors.
Earl of Selborne, Chairman of the Committee said:
"Connected and Autonomous Vehicles is a fast-moving area of technology and the Government has much to do, alongside industry and other partners, to position the UK so that it can take full advantage of the opportunities that CAV offer in different sectors.
"In order to ensure that the UK can benefit from emerging CAV technologies the Government must continue to take action to close the engineering and digital skills gap. We welcome the focus on skills in the Government's Industrial Strategy Green Paper and urge the Government to find innovative solutions to this problem.
"Long-term developments in CAV have the potential to bring about transformational change to society but these changes will only take place if society is willing to both pay for and to adapt its behaviour to fit the technology."
Key findings from the report:
Existing automotive manufacturers and new entrants will carry out their own research and development for fully automated cars. The Government should not need to invest heavily or take the lead in this area. However, the Committee conclude that the Government should continue to invest in the fundamental scientific research in robotics and information technology that underpins CAV.
Whilst the Government should not be involved in developing automated cars, it must ensure that it prepares for the deployment of fully-automated road vehicles. This should include one or more large scale testing environments covering real world urban and rural environments.
The main social, behavioural and ethical questions relating to autonomous cars remain largely unanswered; such as whether they will reduce accidents caused by human error. The Government should give priority to commissioning and encouraging research studying behavioural questions and ensure it is an integral part of any trials it funds.
Image: Department for Transport