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Driverless cars require comprehensive testing before going on roads, says Thatcham

So says insurers’ research centre, Thatcham Research, which adds that the Government’s announcement that it will allow driverless cars on UK roads in just five months’ time is an ‘ambitious target’.

Commenting on the news, Thatcham Research said the UK’s car fleet has a long way to go before it makes the most of existing autonomous technology already tested, proven and readily available.

Chief executive Peter Shaw said: ‘We fully support the automation of safety features such as braking/steering where the vehicle intervenes to avoid a crash – but we must recognise that fully driverless cars require a great deal more comprehensive testing and development before they can be made commercially available in the UK – or anywhere in the world.’

He added: ‘We therefore support the controlled testing that the government is encouraging and are monitoring the results with great interest. In the meantime we are calling on the UK Government to materially support proposed financial incentives designed to encourage more car makers to fit existing Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) technology as standard, and save more than 1,200 lives over the next 10 years alone.’

On the back of Thatcham’s research and tests of AEB systems on behalf of insurers for the last three years, Shaw said: ‘The evidence from our testing is undeniable, and combined with a growing body of real-world research and evidence, we firmly believe that AEB and other ADAS (Advanced Driver Assist Systems) have a critical role to play in safer roads for the future. Fully driverless cars may take a while longer to gain widespread acceptance.’

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.