En­cour­age mo­torists to pur­chase driver­less cars – MP

Solihull News - - NEWS - JONATHAN WALKER jon. walker@ trin­i­tymir­ror. com

RE­LUC­TANT mo­torists should be en­cour­aged to buy self­driv­ing cars, ac­cord­ing to an MP.

Soli­hull MP Ju­lian Knight said cars which drive them­selves, also known as au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles, could dra­mat­i­cally cut the num­ber of ac­ci­dents on the roads.

But he told Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ters that mo­torists might “stick with what is com­fort­able and fa­mil­iar” un­less they were en­cour­aged to switch.

Speak­ing in the House of Com­mons, he also said mo­torists could be re­luc­tant to em­brace new tech­nol­ogy be­cause they were pre­vi­ously en­cour­aged to buy diesel cars – only to be told years later that diesel ve­hi­cles cause pol­lu­tion and would be sub­ject to new taxes.

He said: “I must em­pha­sise how im­por­tant it is that the pub­lic mood is pre­pared for self- driv­ing cars.

“As chair­man of the all- party group on fair fuel for mo­torists and hauliers, I have seen how mil­lions of mo­torists bought diesel cars with the very best of in­ten­tions, urged on by politi­cians, only to face the po­ten­tial for puni­tive taxes as of­fi­cial winds now blow in a new di­rec­tion.

“I well un­der­stand why the pub­lic would be scep­ti­cal of politi­cians laud­ing a new game- chang­ing tech­nol­ogy, but we need to em­pha­sise the huge po­ten­tial to save thou­sands of lives by cut­ting the num­ber of human er­ror car ac­ci­dents on our roads each year.”

The MP added: “We will ful­fil that po­ten­tial, though, only if au­to­mated ve­hi­cles are taken up widely.

“We all know how easy it can be to stick with what is com­fort­able and fa­mil­iar.”

He wel­comed the Gov­ern­ment’s Au­to­mated and Elec­tric Ve­hi­cles Bill, which will change the law to make it eas­ier for self- driv­ing ve­hi­cles to be used on the na­tion’s roads.

But he added: “If pub­lic opin­ion does not keep pace with tech­nol­ogy, the vi­sions con­tained in the Bill will not go as far as they should.”

Dud­ley MP Mike Wood ( Con Dud­ley South) re­vealed a Black Coun­try firm is sell­ing au­ton­o­mous “pods” – small cars – in Korea, but can­not sell them in the UK be­cause the law won’t cur­rently al­low them to be used on Bri­tish roads.

He said: “Westfield Sportscars con­cluded a deal with a re­gional gov­ern­ment in South Korea ear­lier this year, and I was pleased to wel­come a del- ega­tion from South Korea to Westfield in March.

“The firm is now sup­ply­ing au­ton­o­mous pods as an ur­ban tran­sit sys­tem in a £ 30 mil­lion con­tract that is po­ten­tially worth far, far more.

“Westfield is now work­ing with Emi­rates to in­tro­duce sim­i­lar pods air­side, which has enor­mous po­ten­tial – Emi­rates is look­ing at 3,000 ve­hi­cles.

“This small fam­ily firm based in the Black Coun­try is de­liv­er­ing cut­ting- edge au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles across the world.

“But un­til the Bill is en­acted Westfield is un­able to sup­ply many of its pods for use right here in the United King­dom,” he added.

Soli­hull MP Ju­lian Knight

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