Driverless cars ideal for rural Wales, academics say

Driverless cars are not just for smart cities, according to a group of university academics.

Engineers at Glyndwr University believe that autonomous vehicles should be trialled in Wales because they are well suited to its steep, narrow and slow roads. They say they could be used as taxis in rural areas that have poor public transport links, significantly improving quality of life.

The academics have submitted their views on driverless cars and other transport issues to the Welsh Government to help inform its transport strategy.

Barry Johnston, lecturer in low carbon at Glyndwr University, said that driverless cars have real potential to deliver a sustainable rural economy for Wales.

There is a decline in rural populations as more and more young people head into the city to find work and the offset of this has been that public transport links have become even more infrequent – and non-existent in some areas.

I think we’re looking at five to ten years before something like this could become a reality and it would of course need the consent of people living in rural areas, with all of their concerns addressed.

Other ideas put forward by the academics to improve transport and sustainability include adjusting the phasing of traffic lights to favour pedestrians, which they say would encourage more people to walk to work. They also proposed a one-ticket system for bus, rail and other public transport; electrification of the coastal rail line to Holyhead; and cutting the journey time by rail from north to south Wales.

Our thoughts and opinions are all about delivering transport innovation. Wales has almost unique geographic and logistical challenges, such as a gap in the middle of the country where there are particularly poor transport links within the gap as well as across it, Barry added.

Sign up to our newsletter

Meet our experts