Iain Forbes, Head of the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles at DfT and BEIS explains how British companies are at the heart of the next mobility revolution and will provide valuable innovations and insights for change.
Transport is changing in profound ways, and much of that change is being driven by innovators here in the UK. More and more car buyers are opting for electric vehicles. New types of vehicles are rolling out of design labs and onto our streets and into our skies. Self-driving cars and buses are being trialled everywhere from Queensferry to Croydon. And tech developers are finding ever more clever ways to help us plan and pay for journeys.
For those of us who work in transport policy, this is an exciting and dizzying time. If new technologies and business models emerge in the right way, they could improve all our lives. Journeys could be faster, safer, cleaner, more comfortable and more affordable. However, if change isn’t managed effectively then we risk not only losing out on benefits, but potentially needing to manage unintended negative consequences. The decisions we make over the next few years will have a major impact on how this transformation happens, and who will benefit.
With that in mind, the government has recently published the Future of Urban Mobility: Urban Strategy. Our aim was to set out our view of the trends that will impact on transport in the coming years, and the principles we will use to help shape them. We can’t predict the future, but we can signal to industry and to local authorities what sort of
a transport system we want to see, and how we want to work with them to ensure everyone reaps the benefits.
A key early step is to ensure our regulatory system is fit for the future. Transport rules have emerged over many years, often designed around the journeys and technologies of the past. At their best, they have maintained a high level of public safety and helped to ensure everyone can complete the journeys they intend to make. At their worst, they have held back potentially beneficial innovations. One of the key commitments in the Strategy is a far- reaching regulatory review to keep people safe and enable investment and innovation.
Government will not be able to achieve all this by itself. The document is part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Grand Challenge on the Future of Mobility, which aims to put British companies at the heart of the next mobility revolution. We will need the innovations and the insights of organisations who are at the forefront of this change. That includes the members of the BVRLA. We look forward to working with you.