UK slips behind Norway and Finland in readiness for driverless cars

Alex Daniel
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Norway and Finland overtook the UK in readiness for the technology (Source: Getty)

Britain’s rivals are speeding ahead in the race to introduce driverless cars onto the roads, according to research.

The UK slipped two places this year down to seventh place in KPMG’s rankings on progress and capacity for adopting the technology, overtaken by Norway and Finland.

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Both Nordic countries have implemented significant infrastructure developments to support the implementation of autonomous vehicles, said the report.

While Britain remains one of the most world’s most advanced autonomous vehicle (AV) markets, improving infrastructure and altering public perception will boost its standing further, according to the research.

“Ultimately, the consumer is going to drive the pace of adoption of autonomous vehicles,” said Richard Threlfall, global head of infrastructure at KPMG. “Without broad consumer acceptance and willingness to use driverless cars, it will be difficult for an autonomous vehicle market to develop and the enormous benefits to be realised.”

For the second year running the Netherlands and Singapore lead the rankings, but the UK still stands ahead of Germany, United Arab Emirates and Japan among others.

Last week it emerged driverless cars could be on UK roads by the end of this year, after the government said it would be overhauling existing regulations.

The change by the Department for Transport will allow self-driving cars to be trialled on any public road without a human safety driver behind the wheel, however they must have passed "rigorous safety assessments".

Read more: Self-driving cars to hit UK roads by the end of the year

The move is part of a government initiative to have autonomous vehicles in circulation by 2021. It estimated that such technology will be worth £52bn to the UK within the next 15 years.

The measure follows the suspension of trials in Arizona of Uber's self-driving car technology, after a pedestrian was killed in a collision despite the car having a driver behind the wheel. It was in autonomous mode at the time of the incident.