Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: The future?

The possible applications of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) are far-reaching, straddling a variety of different sectors. The examples provided in our evidence included—but were not limited to—aerial, marine, public roads, private and public transport (including metro and rail), space, military, warehousing, ambulance services, precision agriculture, inspection and monitoring of resources, working in dangerous and hazardous environments (such as nuclear facilities) and the delivery of humanitarian supplies.

Proponents of CAV point to anticipated benefits in convenience, efficiency, safety, environmental impact, increased mobility for some groups of society and economic benefits. Others have suggested CAV might reduce the number of driving jobs, pose security threats and raise privacy issues. Surveys have obtained mixed results on public opinion regarding CAV.

Our main findings were:

The Government is too focussed on driverless cars, when the early benefits are likely to appear in other sectors, such as marine and agriculture

The development of CAV across different sectors needs coordination and the Government, working with key stakeholders, must get a grip on this chiefly by establishing a Robotics and Autonomous Systems Leadership Council as soon as possible to play a key role in developing the strategy for CAV

There is a clear need for further Government-commissioned social and economic research to weigh the potential human and financial implications of CAV

This 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.

Image credits:

160709-N-PO203-213 - Office of Naval Research - CC BY 2.0

Jaguar Land Rover Drives Forward Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Technologies - Jaguar MENA - CC BY 2.0

161010-N-PO203-284 - Office of Naval Research - CC BY 2.0

Heathrow T5 Car park pods - Gary Bembridge - CC BY 2.0

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House of Lords Science and Technology Committee
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