Google has been talking autonomous cars with government

Documents released to the Telegraph have revealed Google has been in talks about automated cars with the UK government for the last two years.

In total, Google and the Department of Transport have had five meetings to discuss how driverless cars will be tested and potentially rolled out on the UK's roads, including issues surrounding safety and the infrastructure needed to support such vehicles.

The files relating to the conversations were released to the Telegraph following a Freedom of Information Act (FOI) request, although it's unclear whether the government will be allowing trials of the cars on UK roads, despite committing 20m to research into automated vehicles.

"Driverless cars will bring great benefits to our society, the economy and road safety and we are investing millions into research and trials for the motoring of the future," a spokesman for the Department for Transport said.

"The UK is in a unique position to lead the way for the testing of connected and autonomous vehicles. We are making sure our laws are in step with this fast evolving technology and are working with industry to keep the UK at the forefront of its development."

The documents reveal Sarah Hunter, the head of policy for Google's experimental division known as Google X, met with government officials in February 2015, with notes from the meeing statating the tech company was "very positive about the non-regulatory approach being taken in the UK [which] places the UK in a good position and could be seen as an example of best practice."

Another meeting took place in July, where Hunter described the UK as showing remarkable leadership in this area," while the Department for Transport's Michael Hurwitz explained Google's driverless cars initiative is very important to show the UK's momentum in the area. He said the meeting "emphasised our desire to work with Google to ensure the UK stays ahead."

The next steps following Google's meeting with the government back in July was for the company to talk to the Bank of England about the impact of driverless cars on the UK economy, including whether automated vehicles will have a negative impact on insurance costs.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.