Driverless cars are coming to Britain’s roads, according to many in Government circles. The big question is when.
Here, opinions are numerous and diverse.The Department for Transport (DfT) wants to see driverless cars being tested on UK roads by 2021. But when connected and automated vehicles (CAVs), to give them their full title, will be on the roads in significant numbers, is more difficult to pin down.
According to Government/industry-backed connected mobility organisation Zenzic (formerly Meridian), 30 roadmaps and other for-ward-looking studies have been published in the past three years alone. And, as Zenzic points out, each organisation working in this area has been defining its own objectives and path to the future.
As a result, these visions “lack alignment”; they do not push towards the same goal. Zenzic believes what is needed is “a single vision – combined with a common under-standing of how we get there”. That was the premise of its UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030, published in September 2019. It attempts to set out “a single, agreed view of the future”, with all the steps needed to allow automated cars to operate in their thousands on UK roads a decade from now.
The roadmap is designed, Zenzic says, to provide insights into connected and automated mobility (CAM) for a range of organisations. It aims to answer questions such as, for businesses, “should I invest?”, or “what relationships do I need to be successful?”; for consumers, “will CAM be safe?” or “how will CAM make travel easier?” For governments it seeks to respond to such questions as “how does this fit with the rest of transport policy?”, “when do we need changes in legislation?” and “how can the Government support CAM?”.
Moreover, in what Zenzic believes is a first, it has set out to identify how the various steps are connected and interdependent. It says collaboration, across industry and with the Government, will be critical. The data from the workshops Zenzic conducted suggests that, without any parallel activity, it would be 2079 before the goal was achieved.
A review and analysis process to examine where activities could happen concurrently brings the date back to 2030. In addition, there appears to be a tipping point in 2025. “When you take a macro view of the milestones across the next 10 years, there is a clear changeover point,” says Mark Cracknell, Zenzic head of technology. “The majority of the milestones in the first five years deal primarily with the enabling environment in setting up the processes, legislation, defining infrastructure and so on. From (around) 2025 the milestones take on a much keener focus on deployment.”
Why is connected and automated mobility needed? “The potential benefits of CAM are staggering,” says Cracknell in the report’s introduction.
First: safety. More than 85% of road accidents are attributable to human error, according to DfT statistics. “By replacing human drivers with automation, we will harness the ability to vastly reduce the number of serious incidents,” Cracknell says.
Second: connectivity. Connectivity between vehicles, drivers and cities will increase the efficiency with which the road network operates.
Third: accessibility. CAM will offer improved access to transport across society.
Fourth: productivity. Driverless cars will give up to 225 hours back to drivers annually, according to the DfT.
The 2030 Vision
“To work together on the journey... the destination must first be defined,” says the report. The 2030 Vision sets out “an aspiration of where the ecosystem aims to be and the benefits to be realised by 2030”.
By 2030, the UK is benefiting from proven connected and automated mobility, with an increasingly safe and secure road network, improved productivity and greater access to transport for all. Find out how, read the full article Roadmap bids to connect the diverse strands of mobility (PDF), taken from the Smart Transport Journal.