Driverless Vehicles on UK roads in 2017 as Govt releases Code of Practice for Autonomous Vehicles

Continuing its ambition to be a centre for driverless vehicles, the UK Govt. has released its Code of Practice for Autonomous Vehicles. Its simple, easy to understand and also addresses the key liability issue. Testing of  driverless cars will be on UK roads in 2017.

The UK Govt believes that it has a three-year lead over rival Europeans nations in research into the sector because the UK never ratified the Vienna Convention on road traffic that requires vehicles to have a driver.

With a potential market worth £900bn ($1,400bn) a year globally by 2025 (source: UK Govt), the £100m Govt funding announced in Spring 2015 for research and development of automated cars and the systems they require, such as telecoms, over the next five years, looks under-whelming.

The new code of practice for testing autonomous vehicles states that:

  • A minimum of 30 seconds of data must always be available so if the driverless car is involved in an accident, the cause of the accident can be determined;
  • The pavement ‘pods’ must have someone who can remotely control them (but doesn’t need to be inside them) to bring them into a safe state in the event of a problem ;
  • The M1 driverless vehicles must have a manual driver in the vehicle who can take over if the autonomous system fails;
  • If there is an accident, in the case of the M1 vehicle the liability lies with the driver, in the case of the driverless pods it lies with the remote controller of the vehicle.
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