The government has commissioned a detailed review of driving laws to ensure they keep pace with development of self-driving vehicles.
Roads minister Jesse Norman announced the start of a three-year review by the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission to examine any legal obstacles to the widespread introduction of self-driving vehicles and highlight the need for regulatory reforms.
Key aspects will be adjusting traditional laws to reflect the fact that self-driving vehicles will not have a driver, and may even lack a steering wheel like traditional cars, and also consider some of the criminal offences involved.
The review is part of the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge set out in the government’s Industrial Strategy.
Norman said: “The UK is a world leader for self-driving vehicle research and development, and this work marks an important milestone in our continued commitment to the technology.
“With driving technology advancing at an unprecedented rate, it is important that our laws and regulations keep pace so that the UK can remain one of the world leaders in this field.”
The minister made the announcement during a visit to the GATEway project in Greenwich, which has worked on a number of trials and demonstrations, including an autonomous delivery pod with Ocado and an automated valet parking trial.
Rob Wallis, CEO of TRL which is leading the project, said: “We are seeing a global revolution in transport, transforming how we will travel in the future. Connectivity, electrification, automation and shared mobility are the four main themes driving this innovation.
“Regulation, safety standards and vehicle insurance models all have a key part to play in enabling change, whilst giving society confidence that these new products and services can be introduced safely. The GATEway project, led by TRL, is providing vital scientific insight to help shape future regulatory standards and to better understand public perceptions associated with these new mobility solutions.”
The GATEway project is now entering its final phase which will see a fleet of automated pods providing a shuttle service around the Greenwich Peninsula to understand public acceptance of, and attitudes towards, self-driving vehicles.