Government bodies are currently lobbying for the UK to adopt a legislation that regulates self-driving vehicles.
According to a joint report from the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission, introducing an ‘Automated Vehicles Act’ will help to draw “a clear distinction between features which just assist drivers, such as adaptive cruise control, and those that are self driving.
Under the commissions’ proposal, if a car has ‘self-driving features’ authorised by a regulatory agency, the driver will no longer be responsible for what happens when the car is moving. The blame and consequent sanctions would then be applied to the company who obtained the authorisation.
“The development of self-driving vehicles in the UK has the potential to revolutionise travel, making every day journeys safer, easier and greener,” commented transport minister Trudy Harrison.
“However, we must ensure we have the right regulations in place, based upon safety and accountability, in order to build public confidence.”
According to automotive law specialist and Eversheds Sutherland’s legal director Peter Shervington, the report will provide a blueprint for the government on how to best regulate new automotive technologies.
“This Law Commission report provides welcome clarity and makes a strong case for the government to make the judgement as to ‘how safe is safe enough’, publishing clear safety standards against which to approve and regulate autonomous vehicles so that the square peg of the driverless car finally fits through the round hole of automotive law,” he said.
To be discussed by the UK and Scottish parliaments, the report’s recommendations build on the 2018 Automated and Electric Vehicles Act, which ensured that victims of self-driving car accidents will receive compensation directly from their insurance, without having to prove fault.
The report’s findings come a day after Volkswagen and Bosch announced a partnership to develop a self-driving software that will be installed on vehicles from next year. As part of the deal, the two firms will also work on a system to take all driving functions on motorways, with the possibility of developing a fully automated software.