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Self-driving cars might appear in UK as soon as 2026, Transport Secretary

Self-driving cars might appear in UK as soon as 2026, Transport Secretary UK Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper (Getty Images)

Self-driving cars could appear on the UK's roads as soon as 2026, according to Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper, Bloomberg and The Guardian report.

Although full autonomous vehicles are currently not allowed on UK roads, the government is in the process of passing the Automated Vehicles (AV) legislation through parliament. Harper says that a legal framework for self-driving cars is expected to be in place by the end of 2024.

“This technology exists, it works, and what we’re doing is putting in place the proper legislation so that people can have full confidence in the safety of this technology,” Harper told BBC Radio.

He shares that by 2026, people "will start seeing some elements of these cars that have full self-driving capabilities being rolled out."

Despite concerns raised by critics who argue that such technology may lead to accidents, Harper stresses that automated vehicles have the potential to enhance road safety.

“I think it will actually improve road safety," he says. "We already have a very good road safety record in Britain but there are still several thousand people a year killed on our roads."

He also points out that people with disabilities could have more freedom. “For example, there are people who have disabilities, people with learning disabilities, who don’t have the same freedom that driving brings the rest of us. This potentially opens up a whole new world for personal freedom," he notes.

Despite Autopilot cars have been a well-known and overhyped topic over recent years, the technology is still in its early development stages. For example, Tesla recently recalled over 2 million vehicles, nearly all cars sold in the United States, to address issues with its Autopilot systems.