Manufacturers of self-driving cars in the UK will be responsible for the actions of the car in autonomous mode, according to the country’s law a new road map achieve widespread adoption of self-driving cars by 2025.
The British government unveiled its roadmap over the weekend, announcing $119 million in funding for AV projects and an additional $41 million for research to support safety and new legislation.
The roadmap says the new legislation will build on existing laws and states that manufacturers are responsible for the actions of self-driving vehicles, “meaning that the human driver will not be liable for incidents related to driving while the vehicle is under management control”.
The distinction could set a precedent around the world, where liability in autonomous vehicle accidents can still be something of a gray area. Vin 2017, an autonomous Uber test car hit a pedestrian, the human security operator in the vehicle was charged with manslaughter with a dangerous instrument. Uber has not been charged. I after a fatal accident in 2019 involving a Tesla operating on Autopilot, the driver, not the Tesla, was charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.
As the country prepares to write new AV laws, Britain has opened a consultation period on “security ambitions” to make self-driving vehicles as safe as human drivers. The results of the consultation will help shape standards for the operation of autonomous vehicles on public roads, as well as possible sanctions in case of non-compliance with these standards.
“It’s still quite a leap from assisted driving, where the driver is still in control, to autonomous driving, where the car takes over. It is important that the government examines how these vehicles will interact with other road users on different roads and changing weather conditions.” AA – said in the statement of President Edmund King. “However, the ultimate reward, in terms of saving thousands of lives and improving the mobility of the elderly and people with reduced mobility, is worth pursuing.”
As well as developing a bill to ensure the safety of autonomous technology, the UK wants to take advantage of the emerging AV market, which is estimated to be worth around $50 billion and could create 38,000 new jobs. Of the total investment, about $24 million will be used to create commercial autonomous services, such as autonomous grocery delivery or airport shuttles. Another $7 million will go toward further market research and commercialization support.
“We want the UK to be at the forefront of the development and use of this fantastic technology and that’s why we’re investing millions in vital safety research and putting legislation in place so we can reap all the benefits this technology promises,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shaps in the statement.
Vehicles that can drive themselves on motorways will be available for purchase within the next year to drivers with valid driving licences, the government has said. For now Tesla is one of the best selling cars in the UK, current law prevents UK drivers from testing the full beta version of Tesla’s self-driving car, its advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) that comes with a variety of automated driving features. The new legislation could open the door not only to ride-hailing, delivery and public transport, but also to cars equipped with higher levels of ADAS.