Developers of self-driving technology have warned that the UK risks losing its ability to compete in the AV market, due to delays in regulation .
“Flip-flopping” on legislation will prove highly detrimental for attracting investors, Dr Sarah Gates, Director of Public Policy at AV developer Wayve, told City AM.
According to Gates, it has reached a critical moment. If legislation is delayed beyond the next general election, the UK will risk losing its competitiveness in the technology.
“I think we can say that the UK is already behind and is actually at risk of becoming completely uncompetitive if it doesn’t legislate in the fourth session, I think that’s, I guess, the seriousness of where it is,” she said.
“You will have companies struggling to deploy in the way that they need to in the UK. Ultimately, they won’t have a route to market in the UK, if we miss this chance.”
Gates said that while becoming uncompetitive is a key risk, the “wider message I would hope to land is the damage it actually does to the UK is as a destination for investment in deep technology.”
Delays in implementing AV regulation have continued since it was first announced by Boris Johnson last May.
Under Liz Truss, it was placed low on the government agenda.
In his recent review into digital technologies, Patrick Vallance called on the government to focus regulator efforts on innovation in autonomous vehicles.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive told City AM that “we urgently need primary legislation passed to enable the use of these beneficial technologies, or risk being left behind as other overseas markets accelerate towards the future.”
A DfT spokesperson said: “The self-driving vehicle industry offers an exciting opportunity to create new jobs, make transport greener and safer, and grow the economy.
“That’s why we’re investing £100 million over the next three years in UK companies, bringing total support to over £600 million, to explore the potential of this new technology.”
Government predictions have reported that the AV market will be worth £41.7bn and deliver 40,000 jobs by 2035.