Autonomous Vehicle Bill has been announced in King's Speech
On 7 November, at the King’s speech, The Automated Vehicles Bill was announced, which is a significant piece of legislation aimed at facilitating the safe deployment of self-driving vehicles in the UK.
We welcome this announcement as we have worked extensively with our members for the past two years to support homegrown innovation and ensure the UK competes globally.
The primary goal of this bill is to position the United Kingdom as a global leader in the rapidly growing self-driving vehicle industry while ensuring that safety remains paramount. The bill is expected to unlock the growth potential of this sector, potentially creating a UK market worth up to £42 billion and generating 38,000 skilled jobs by 2035. This aligns with the Prime Minister's priority to boost the economy and create more opportunities for the workforce.
The Automated Vehicles Bill outlines several key provisions and objectives:
- Safety Framework: The bill establishes a rigorous safety framework for self-driving vehicles, setting clear thresholds for vehicles that can operate autonomously and adhere to all traffic rules without human intervention. The Department for Transport and its agencies will have new powers to authorise these vehicles and ensure compliance with safety standards.
- Accountability: Companies developing and operating self-driving vehicles will be held accountable for the safety of their vehicles. The bill introduces sanctions and penalties for non-compliance, including fines, corrective actions, and suspension of operations. Criminal offenses may also apply in serious cases. Furthermore, it establishes processes for investigating incidents involving self-driving vehicles to enhance safety.
- Clear Legal Liability: The bill creates new organisations responsible for self-driving vehicles, shifting responsibility from individuals to companies while the vehicle is driving itself. Companies must ensure the safety and compliance of their vehicles with British laws and report relevant safety data. Individuals will be protected from prosecution while their self-driving vehicles are in control, eliminating the need to hold the person behind the wheel accountable.
- Consumer Protection: Misleading marketing of self-driving vehicles is prohibited. Only vehicles that meet safety thresholds can be marketed as self-driving, making it clear that the driver is responsible at all times. This ensures that individuals using self-driving vehicles understand their legal responsibilities.
The bill's territorial extent primarily applies to Great Britain, encompassing England and Wales. One exception is the Digitalising Traffic Regulations Order, which is applicable only to England.
The UK government has been actively supporting the development of self-driving technologies, with significant investments and projects. The adoption of self-driving vehicles is expected to improve road safety by reducing human errors that contribute to a significant number of accidents. The UK's self-driving sector is projected to have a substantial economic impact, with the market estimated to be worth £41.7 billion by 2035 and the creation of 87,000 jobs. The application of self-driving technology is also anticipated to bring productivity increases and cost savings to various domestic sectors, including logistics and passenger services.
The Automated Vehicles Bill represents a comprehensive approach to facilitate the growth of self-driving technology in the UK, focusing on safety, accountability, and consumer protection while harnessing the economic potential of this transformative industry. The next steps will involve implementing the bill's provisions, promoting research, innovation, and investment, and continuously improving the legal framework as the self-driving industry evolves.
Matthew Evans, Director of Markets at techUK has said:
“We welcome the government’s decision to legislate for the commercial deployment of self-driving vehicles within the King’s Speech. These powers are critical for ensuring the UK can take advantage of the transformative benefits of automated mobility. They will also ensure we can keep pace with the rest of the world, keeping research, development, and investment on our shores. The government has previously stated its ambition to see the first commercial self-driving vehicle deployment by 2025 and we look forward to supporting the creation of the frameworks to make that happen."
We will continue to engage with the government on this matter. To work with us you can join our self-driving vehicle working group by contacting Ashley Feldman.
Interested in the future of autonomous robots?
Click here to join techUK's Future Visions webinar, on 11 December, to learn about:
- the latest autonomous robot technologies
- areas for further Government support, and
- opportunities for UK industry to develop or adopt the tech
Teodora’s rich background varies from working in business development for a renewable energy lobbying association in Brussels to the fast moving technology innovation startup scene in the UK.
She has designed the market strategy for a German renewable energy engineering scale up for the UK, listed on Nasdaq private market, and now one of the fastest growing scale ups in the world. Previous experience also includes managing a renewable energy startup in London, which has built a small-scale biomass CHP power plant. Teodora is passionate about cross-industry collaboration and working together with academia to inform the design of future educational models and skill building.
Most recently Teodora has ran the commercial activities and business development at Future Cities Catapult, focusing on innovation in cities, digital health and wellbeing, mobility, and infrastructure. Teodora is a passionate STEM Ambassador and a vocal advocate for women in tech.
Ashley Feldman is the programme manager for transport and smart cities at techUK. Through working closely with the technology industry, his role is to promote the contribution of digital technology in driving positive outcomes for cities and transport. Through maintaining close ties to government, he also works to ensure the policy and regulatory conditions are optimised for businesses to scale innovation in the UK.
He is fascinated by cities and the built environment, having worked as a consultant on major regeneration projects across the country before joining techUK in 2022.
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