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U.K. science minister races to legalize driverless cars

Google's latest self-driving car prototype.

Above: Google's latest self-driving car prototype.

Image Credit: Google

David Willetts wants Britain to lead the world in autonomous vehicle legislation.

The U.K.’s current “Highway Code” is insufficient for the impending arrival of self-driving cars, said Willetts, who became the U.K.’s Minister of State for Universities and Science in May 2010. That’s why he’s talking to the Department of Transport about rewriting the laws to allow driverless cars on U.K. roads, the minister told the Daily Mail.

U.K. science minister David Willetts

Above: U.K. science minister David Willetts

Image Credit: David Willetts

The Department of Transport says it’s “keeping a watchful eye” on autonomous automobile tech — but it needs to see encouraging results before it begins to rewrite current laws.

Engineers at Oxford University are working on their own autonomous vehicle tech, which Willetts asserts is cheaper than Google’s autonomous getups. Google recently introduced a new self-driving car prototype that lacks key features of standard autos, including pedals, mirrors, and a steering wheel.

Nevada, Florida, California, and Michigan have all passed legislation allowing self-driving cars on their roads — and California will even begin handing out driverless car licenses this fall. In Europe, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands have also authorized driverless car tests in traffic.

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