Queen paves way for autonomous cars in U.K.


Volvo Drive Me autonomous car pilot project in Gothenburg, Sweden

Volvo Drive Me autonomous car pilot project in Gothenburg, Sweden

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The Queen of England took time out of an address to Parliament this morning to proclaim that she intends for her country to take the lead on developing autonomous cars.

In her State Opening of Parliament, Queen Elizabeth II confirmed changes to insurance legislation in the United Kingdom that will help make autonomous cars a reality sooner rather than later. The changes include allowing autonomous cars to be insured just as a car without the on-board technology, overcoming one of the biggest legislative hurdles to autonomous cars in the U.K.—and most other parts of the globe.

Currently, no autonomous cars are offered to the public, but most automakers are testing them on their own. Jaguar Land Rover, Britain's largest car builder, has emerged as one of the bigger voices in the push toward autonomy, but it has not legally been able to test its cars at home on public streets until now.

Other firms are joining it. Volvo plans to test a fleet of autonomous-capable XC90s next year in the U.K. Similarly, Nissan plans to build a version of its Qashqai with available autonomous technology at its Sunderland plant in the northeast of England as early as next year.

Other changes announced in the speech include provisions for regulating drones over British airspace and, in a somewhat related field, digitizing the country's public transportation to ensure more on-time transit.

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