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The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has opened its call for evidence on self-driving.

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NIC call for evidence on self-driving deadline: 3 June

The UK’s National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has opened its call for evidence on connected and self-driving technologies to “support sustainable economic growth across all regions of the UK, improve competitiveness and quality of life, and support climate resilience”.

As outlined by Chairman Sir John Armitt CBE at the Zenzic CAM Innovators’ Day in March, the NIC exists to provide government with impartial, expert advice on major long term infrastructure challenges.

Sir John Armitt CBE at Zenzic CAM Innovators 2024
Sir John Armitt CBE at Zenzic CAM Innovators 2024

Recent NIC studies have looked at ways to reduce the risks of surface water flooding, and ways to make our electricity distribution network fit for net zero.

The terms of reference for the self-driving study are, broadly: How the government should plan, operate and maintain the UK’s road network (and related digital infrastructure) to ensure that CAM technologies are accounted for in strategic transport plans.

The Commission takes the government’s definition of a self-driving vehicle – one that has at least one self-driving feature, such that it meets a legally-defined threshold and is capable of safely driving itself with no human input.

The Commission assumes that most automated vehicles will also be connected – able to communicate with the driver, other vehicles, roadside infrastructure and other services via the cloud. It is therefore also interested in the benefits that connectivity can bring separately or in addition to self-driving.

Commissioner Michele Dix said: “This technology enables us to think differently about how we could manage the country’s congested roads, transforming the experiences of drivers and public transport users and giving business productivity a real boost.

“The study is a chance to understand the full implications of the technology for future infrastructure design and operation, and to identify the policies government will need to ensure it succeeds.”

NIC call for evidence on self-driving
NIC call for evidence on self-driving

Self-driving questions

Key questions the NIC is seeking to address include:

What opportunities and risks could self-driving vehicles present for freight and logistics? For example, regarding cost savings for retail and business customers.

What are the opportunities and risks that self-driving ride-hailing services could bring to households and wider society? For example, whether they might prompt greater use of shared transport services.

    What are the opportunities and risks for public transport from self-driving vehicles? For example, whether interventions may be needed to ensure the provision of affordable transport options in certain areas.

    Are there specific interventions in relation to physical highway infrastructure and/or digital connectivity that could enable greater benefits from the use of self-driving vehicles? For example, whether there is sometimes a case for dedicated lanes or other segregation.

    To what extent could self-driving vehicles help address existing inequalities and improve transport inclusion? For example, for people who are unable to drive due to a disability or age.

    Deadline: 3 June

    Responses should be sent via email to [email protected] by the end of Monday 3 June 2024.

    An interim report is expected in summer 2024, with the Commission’s full conclusions due in February 2025.

    For further info please see the NIC website.

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    Author: Neil Kennett

    Neil is MD of Featurebank Ltd. He launched in 2019.