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UK govt 'tearing up road laws' for Google's self-driving cars: THE TRUTH

Blighty can't be left behind in neutral, thunders Tory minister

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The UK government is not hard at work amending its legislation to get Google's self-driving cars lawfully on British roads, despite reports to the contrary.

The Department for Transport said officials are “keeping a watchful eye” on various driverless car trials, including Google’s, but it needed to see the results of these before it thought about setting to work rewriting the Highway Code.

Science minister David Willetts was keen to talk up the driverless car revolution and Blighty’s role as a “world leader” in the field, with a British rival being developed at the University of Oxford. He told the Daily Mail that new regulations were something that he had “discussed with the Department for Transport”. But apparently, the idea that legislation is already in the works is premature.

Right now in the US, driverless cars can hit the road as long as they come with a human in the driving seat, presumably in case things go horribly wrong. But Willetts said the States were working on changing this.

“What America is going to have is a legal regime in California that permits you to travel in one without requiring someone in the so-called driver’s seat,” he said.

The Tory minister claimed a similar rule change in Blighty would be needed to allow British projects to get off the ground, referring in particular to University of Oxford's efforts to develop a car that can memorise a route – like the commute into work – by recognising its surroundings and then use auto-pilot to run that same route again.

“We need to work on these type of regulations so that as the technology develops in Oxford and elsewhere we can see them used,” Willetts said. ®

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