ICAV Cluster

Automated Vehicles Act Paves the Way for Self-Driving Cars on UK Roads by 2026

London, UK – June 2024: The UK has taken a significant step towards becoming a global leader in autonomous vehicle (AV) technology with the passage of the Automated Vehicles Act. This groundbreaking legislation establishes a comprehensive legal framework for the deployment of self-driving cars on British roads, setting the stage for their rollout as early as 2026.

Key Highlights of the Act:

  • Safety First: The Act mandates that all self-driving vehicles must meet rigorous safety standards equivalent to those of a careful and competent human driver. This includes stringent testing and validation processes to ensure these vehicles can safely navigate the UK’s roadways.
  • Legal Clarity: The legislation clarifies legal liability during autonomous operation. When a vehicle is in self-driving mode, the manufacturer or operator, rather than the driver, will be held accountable for the vehicle’s actions. This provision aims to build public trust and promote widespread adoption of AVs.
  • Economic and Social Benefits: The AV sector is projected to generate up to 38,000 new jobs and contribute to a £42 billion industry. Self-driving technology promises to reduce road accidents caused by human error, enhance mobility for non-drivers, and improve connectivity in rural areas .

Transport Secretary Mark Harper emphasized the transformative potential of the new legislation, stating, “Britain stands at the threshold of an automotive revolution and this new law is a milestone moment for our self-driving industry, which has the potential to change the way we travel forever”.

Government Support and Trials:

The UK government has demonstrated strong support for the AV industry through significant investments and supportive policies. The £66 million Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility fund is backing 20 projects involving nearly 50 organizations to develop prototype passenger and logistics self-driving services. Notable trials include those by Wayve and Oxa in London and Oxford, supported by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) .

Industry and Academic Contributions:

The development of AV technology in the UK is bolstered by collaborations between industry leaders and academic institutions. Oxford University researchers, for example, have advanced AI systems that enhance AV navigation in adverse weather conditions, improving the reliability and safety of these vehicles 

Alex Kendall, Co-founder and CEO of Wayve, praised the government’s efforts, saying, “Self-driving technology promises a safer, smarter, and more sustainable future of transport. We are confident the government will prioritize these next steps so this technology can be deployed as soon as possible” 

Looking Ahead:

Transport Secretary Mark Harper hailed the Act as a landmark moment, emphasizing its potential to transform transportation and boost the UK economy. The government aims to follow up with secondary legislation to ensure the timely and safe deployment of self-driving vehicles, positioning the UK at the forefront of this innovative sector.

 

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