Driverless cars could 'completely change the landscape' of Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 13:14 13 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:15 13 March 2019

Driverless cars could change Norfolk's landscape, say councillors. Photo: Getty Images

Driverless cars could change Norfolk's landscape, say councillors. Photo: Getty Images

Olivier Le Moal

The rise of driverless cars could "completely change the landscape" of roads in Norfolk, councillors have heard.

The motor industry is pumping billions each year into developing autonomous vehicles, with trials of self-driving cars.

And Norfolk County Council officers told councillors it was crucial that the authority monitors the robot revolution.

Kurt Frary, the council’s infrastructure services manager told members of County Hall’s digital innovation and efficiency committee today that there could be implications for the highways network.

He said: “In terms of autonomous cars, it’s a growing industry.

“We need to keep a very close eye on it, because, combined with electric cars, that could completely change the landscape.”

The vehicles work by combining a variety of sensors to understand their surroundings, with their control systems interpreting the information they get to identify a suitable and safe route.

David Cumming, the council’s interim team leader transport, said: “The pace of change is ever increasing and that change is likely to have implications on us as a highways authority.”

A report to councillors highlighted how the council needs to consider the implications of a wide roll out of such vehicles.

That includes whether the council’s planning and design of roads meets the safety requirements for future fully or semi-autonomous cars.

Officers also say councillors need to think about whether the driverless cars would lead to extra vehicle movements on the county’s roads.

Committee members also heard how the council will need to consider whether it tries to stimulate the market for electric vehicles by applying for grants to provide charging points.

And the committee also agreed to recommend that, where possible, the council should seek to use electric or hybrid for its own fleet of vehicles.

Conservative councillor John Fisher said: “I believe we should be moving forward and start introducing electric vehicles.”

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