by Laurie Clarke

How UK CIOs are working with autonomous vehicles

Apr 08, 2019
IT LeadershipIT Strategy

Nominet CTO Simon McCalla

Nominet CTO Simon McCalla is exploring how the company can contribute to the development of autonomous vehicles as part of the Drive consortium behind the UK’s forthcoming first live trials of self-driving cars and with Addison Lee on the development of autonomous taxis.

Nominet will also provide cyber security expertise and data management infrastructure for the cars and connected services.

Volvo CIO Atif Rafiq

Volvo CIO Atif Rafiq

Volvo CIO Atif Rafiq believes the automotive industry is undergoing its biggest changes for 100 years, and has been set a series of objectives to help Volvo thrive through the disruption.

By 2025, the company wants half of its sales to be electric vehicles, and a third of them to be autonomous cars.

The company has already achieved Level 2 autonomy, which means computers control at least two driving functions but still need the help of a human to drive the car. Volvo plans to skip the next step and move straight to Level 4 driverless cars, which are fully autonomous in controlled areas. It aims to sell its first driverless vehicles in 2021.

“This is an industry with a heritage of long car lifecycles where the product doesn’t change for four or five years,” said Rafiq. “That is absolutely the opposite of where this industry is going.”

DVSA Director of Digital Services and Technology James Munson

DVSA Director of Digital Services and Technology James Munson

The DVSA has a policy team that investigates how future technology will affect the agency’s services. Much of its current focus is on the impact of autonomous vehicles.

“There’s obviously trials going on with some fairly advanced autonomous vehicles around the world, and there are more and more autonomous features that are being added to vehicles in the UK that are on the road,” he said.

“We need to make sure that as an agency, we take account of those changes to things like MOT testing, commercial vehicle testing, and the driving test as things move on. We’ve already made some changes to the driving test, introducing things like driving with a sat nav to take account of the changing technology. I expect that change to continue as we keep pace with technology advancements in road transport.”

Heathrow Airport CIO Stuart Birrell

Heathrow Airport CIO Stuart Birrell

Heathrow Airport CIO Stuart Birrell has developed an innovation hub to integrate digital thinking across the business and is currently exploring a range of emerging technologies.

His team has been exploring blockchain-based digital identity, testing autonomous vehicles on the tarmac but believes there is greater current potential in remote control.

“I think we’re having more success with remote control than through autonomous control,” he said. “It’s a case of time and the complexity of mixing autonomous with manual is a real challenge.”