A new Automated Vehicles Bill has been introduced into Parliament that aims to put safety at the forefront of the oncoming rollout of self-driving vehicles across the United Kingdom.

The new framework was announced during the King’s Speech on Tuesday 7 November, and pledges to deliver a comprehensive legal framework to ensure clear liability for users, set the safety threshold for legal self-driving vehicles and establish a regulatory scheme to monitor the ongoing safety of all automated vehicles (AV).

Autonomous vehicles are ultimately expected to enhance safety and efficiency on our roads
The Bill is expected to help align the UK as a leader in the self-driving industry
Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said:

Our new Bill ensures safety is at the heart of our plans to see self-driving vehicles on our roads, making the UK a great place to develop this technology.

We have the opportunity to put the UK at the forefront of a fast-growing, multi-billion-pound industry by providing the clarity and certainty for businesses to develop and invest in this exciting technology.

All autonomous vehicles will be subject to a comprehensive safety testing process before they are allowed to operate on public roads, with the new Bill ensuring clear legal liability when a vehicle is in service with new legal entities responsible for self-driving.

Every fully authorised AV will require a corresponding Authorised Self-Driving Entity, often the manufacturer, which is to be held responsible for all behaviour and actions taken by the vehicle whilst driving.

There will also be new legislation to prevent companies from utilising misleading market practices, forbidding the use of ambiguous terminology when advertising self-driving vehicles. Regulations under the Bill will dictate a set of specific terminology and symbols reserved for marketing autonomous vehicles.

The laws implement recommendations of the review of self-driving regulation, carried out by the Law Commission of England and Wales, as well as the Scottish Law Commission. It is the culmination of over 4 years of legal work, 3 rounds of public consultation and responses from a wide range of organisations and individuals.

Transport Minister, Jesse Norman, said:

Today marks a landmark occasion as we usher in the future of transport, aiming at safer, greener and more efficient travel for all.

The Bill is expected to help align the UK as a leader in the self-driving industry, creating up to 38,000 jobs. It comes as government funding and support for trials of automated vehicles in the UK is rising, with the recent 66 million GBP Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility fund aiding 20 projects across 50 different organisations in a bid to develop both prototype passenger and logistics self-driving services.


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