The UK government’s Automated Vehicle (AV) Act has officially become law after receiving the required Royal Assent on Monday 20 May, following a final round of Parliamentary ‘ping pong’.

Announced in the King’s Speech; the Act, which aims to get autonomous vehicles onto British roads as early as 2026, will introduce a new set of legal requirements to ensure safety when in operation.

It is expected that the move could create over 38,000 new jobs

The Act sets out a comprehensive legal framework, establishing liability for the operation of AVs in such a way that drivers in control of their self-driving vehicle can not be held accountable for any action it might take, putting the responsibility on insurance providers, software developers and automotive manufacturers themselves.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper, said:

Britain stands at the threshold of an automotive revolution, and this new law is a milestone moment for our self-driving industry which has the potential to change the way we travel forever.

While this doesn’t take away people’s ability to choose to drive themselves, our landmark legislation means self-driving vehicles can be rolled out on British roads as soon as 2026, in a real boost to both safety and our economy.

Automated vehicles will be subject to a new vehicle approval system, which in turn will be supported by an independent incident investigation function, with companies being responsible for keeping their vehicles safe and in line with British laws.

The AV Act follows a series of comprehensive trials taking place throughout the country, with companies such as Wayve and Oxa currently trialling autonomous vehicles in both London and Oxford.

Alex Kendall, Co-founder and CEO of Wayve, said:

I am delighted that the Automated Vehicles Bill has received Royal Assent. This is a critical milestone for the UK’s deployment of self-driving technology and cements the UK as a global leader in regulating this sector. We are grateful to the Government and all who have engaged with us in the conversation about the importance of this legislation.

Self-driving technology promises a safer, smarter and more sustainable future of transport. There’s still some way to go with secondary legislation before we can reap the full benefits of self-driving vehicles in the UK, but we are confident the Government will prioritise these next steps so this technology can be deployed as soon as possible.

 

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