Britain’s Department for Transportation (DfT) will introduce new insurance rules to ensure compensation for victims of any accidents involving self-driving cars. The measures are due to be tabled in the House of Commons in the coming days.
The UK has ambitions to become a world leader in both automated cars and electric vehicle charging points. According to Reuters, the British government wants to build an industry to serve a market it reckons could be worth about 900 billion pounds ($1.1 trillion) worldwide by 2025.
The latest market research reports on the subject forecast driverless cars will reduce fuel consumption by 10% and insurance costs by 30%.
One of the major hurdles the industry has to overcome is legislation. The introduction of driverless cars has been hampered by legal hurdles in several countries. In the U.S., insurers and legislators in various states are trying to establish rules and guidelines for autonomous vehicles.
"We must ensure the public is protected in the event of an incident and this week we are introducing the framework to allow insurance for these new technologies," said UK transport minister Chris Grayling.
A single insurance product will be available to cover a driver when a vehicle is being used conventionally, as well as when the car is being used in autonomous mode, the transport ministry said in a statement.
Recent incidents involving a self-driving Google car and a Tesla model in autonomous mode have raised concerns among members of the public. As recently as October, one of Google’s cars was struck when a diver ran a red light and collided with the passenger side door of the Lexus SUV.
The news coincides with Nissan’s announcement that it will test autonomous cars in London this month after initial tests in Milton Keynes late last year. The Japanese automaker is said to be testing its autonomous Nissan LEAF vehicle, though where exactly the trial is set to take place has not yet been announced.
Members of the public have not been invited to the tests. However, government officials and technical and safety experts will be invited to experience “a live environment” in one of Nissan’s autonomous LEAFs.
Reuters is also reporting that Britain will also set out plans to improve infrastructure such as charging points for electric vehicles, the fastest growing sector for new car sales in the country and key to meeting environmental targets. The global electric vehicle charger market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 29.38% during the period 2016-2020.
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