Autonomous vehicle use in practice
Is the UK ready?
Citation: James Marson, Jill Dickinson, Stephen Parkes (2023). Autonomous vehicle use in practice: Is the UK ready?
London: Property Research Trust
James Marson, PhD is a Reader in Law at the Department of Law and Criminology, Sheffield Hallam University. Dr Marson is an expert in EU motor vehicle insurance law and has researched and written extensively on aspects of autonomous vehicles, including data protection and cyber security, the legal consequences of data collection for privacy and human rights, the consequences of driverless public transport for disability and equality protection (nationally and internationally), and consumer harm through advertising vehicles as ‘autonomous’. Email: email@example.com
Jill Dickinson, PhD is an Associate Professor in Law at the School of Law, University of Leeds. Dr Dickinson is a former solicitor, having worked for national and international law firms, specialising in commercial property portfolio management and development. Her academic research has centred around law and place, exploring the law’s manifestations across the private/ public place spectrum. These include green spaces, town and city centres, and the issues created by the blurred boundaries that can characterise them. Email: J.Dickinson1@leeds.ac.uk
Stephen Parkes, PhD is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University. Dr Parkes is a transport specialist, having worked on projects covering active travel, urban infrastructure provision, autonomous vehicles, and travel behaviour change. His work on the adoption of autonomous vehicles has recently focused on their potential role in the wider transport system, exploring their potential impacts on towns and cities, and in particular on other road users, including the more vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) are becoming an increasing reality as a means of transport on public roads. They are currently being tested on public and private roads throughout the UK. The UK government has identified key legislation, investment and timetables to ensure that the UK is at the forefront of the deployment of CAVs, both for public and private forms of transport.
However, despite the investment in testing and production of the technologies surrounding the development of CAVs, little research has been undertaken from the perspective of local authorities (LAs) and their preparedness for the influx and roll out of such vehicles. This study contains findings from interviews with representatives from key LAs and professional organisations to improve understanding around the experiences of, and policies used by, LAs when faced with this new and disruptive transportation system.
The benefits of CAV deployment are potentially numerous. Respondents have noted how they can partner on innovative projects, use land and space more creatively, lower transport costs over the long term, develop networks internally and externally, fulfil clean air and sustainability goals, and be part of shaping future technology implementation, rather than just passive recipients.
However, there are potentially fundamental problems and risks with CAV deployment, including an upsurge in the use of private vehicles which might increase congestion, especially in city centres. Therefore, unless managed strategically, they could act as an obstacle to more active forms of travel (e.g. walking and cycling). On a technological basis, CAVs might struggle to appreciate dynamic events and may also be vulnerable to deliberate acts to sabotage their safe use.
Keywords: Autonomous vehicle, CAV deployment, testing and production