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New technologies to be tested under new UK transport regulatory review

The UK government has launched a consultation to make journeys easier, smarter and greener through new technology as part of its Future of transport regulatory review.

The review will consider how we make small changes to our everyday travel decisions and whether we could choose to walk, cycle, bus or one day e-scoot instead of take the car.

Alongside the review, a £90mn funding boost will lead to trials of new transport innovation in three new ‘future transport zones’. The zones will provide real-world testing for experts, allowing them to work with a range of local bodies such as councils, hospitals, airports and universities to test innovative ways to transport people and goods.

The three new zones set to receive a share of the funding are in Portsmouth and Southampton, the West of England Combined Authority, and Derby and Nottingham – 
they will all join the existing West Midlands future of transport zone.

One of the projects tested will see drones carrying medical supplies from clinics on the Isle of Wight to hospitals on the mainland. This will help speed up diagnoses by cutting out time spent journeying on ferries and roads. Once trials are complete, the drones could eventually be used to transport chemotherapy kits to save time and potentially lives.

The government will also consult on the use of e-scooters and the impact they may have on UK transport. Requirements for both e-scooters and those using them are being explored to make sure they are safe for use on roads. This includes a minimum age and vehicle standards as well as insurance requirements. The review will also consider if local authorities should have extra powers to manage the impacts of e-scooters on public space, for example where they can be parked.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘We are on the cusp of a transport revolution. Emerging technologies are ripping up the rulebook and changing the way people and goods move forever. Our ground-breaking future of transport programme marks the biggest review of transport laws in a generation and will pave the way for exciting new transport technology to be tested, cementing the UK’s position as a world-leading innovator.’

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and COP26 President Alok Sharma added: ‘Decarbonising transport is key to ending our contribution to climate change. This review could drive down transport emissions by making greener ways to travel available to more people. Future transport zones will also help to spur low carbon innovation by providing our best and brightest researchers with testing facilities for the clean transport technologies of the future.’

The government is also exploring ​how to test emerging technology in bus, taxi and private hire vehicle services, which could make journey planning and payment simpler and more seamless. For example, by reviewing regulations which could make it easier for bus services to operate in a similar way to on-demand taxis or private hire vehicles.

The Future of transport regulatory review was first announced in March 2019 as part of the 
Future of mobility: urban strategy.

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