Self-driving vehicles will hit the roads in 2026 when the Automated Vehicles Act becomes law

  • Self-driving vehicles could be on British roads in just two years if the new law receives royal assent
  • This move could create more than 38,000 new jobs, cementing Britain’s position at the forefront of the self-driving technology industry
  • The travel sector will revolutionize a £42 billion industry, increasing road safety and unlocking opportunities for those who currently cannot drive

Self-driving vehicles could be on UK roads by 2026, after the government’s world-leading Automated Vehicles (AV) The law became law today (May 20, 2024).

In the King’s speech it was announced that the AV Act enables cutting-edge technology to drive vehicles safely on Britain’s roads. The new law puts Britain firmly at the forefront of regulating self-driving technology, unlocking the potential of an industry estimated to be worth £42 billion and creating 38,000 more skilled jobs by 2035.

Road safety is at the heart of the legislation, with automated vehicles expected to improve road safety by reducing human error, which contributes to 88% of road accidents.

The law requires that self-driving vehicles achieve a level of safety at least as high as careful and competent human drivers, and that they pass strict safety checks before being allowed on the road. Therefore, in the future, the number of deaths and injuries caused by drunk driving, speeding, fatigue and inattention could be drastically reduced.

Transport Minister Mark Harper said:

Britain is on the brink of a car revolution and this new law is a milestone for our self-driving industry, which has the potential to change the way we travel forever.

While this won’t eliminate people’s ability to drive themselves, our groundbreaking legislation means that self-driving vehicles could be rolled out on UK roads as early as 2026, providing a real boost for both safety and our economy.

The passage of the law strengthens the Britain‘s position as a global leader in emerging industries, with both the self-driving vehicle and artificial intelligence (AI) sectors that offer enormous potential for economic growth as they develop.

The AV Act follows self-driving tests already taking place across the country. For example, homegrown British success stories Wayve and Oxa are testing self-driving cars in London and Oxford. This month it was revealed that Wayve had secured more than $1 billion in investment to develop it AI technology further here in the Britain.

Wayve has said that their technological advancements are supported by the Britain‘s Code of Practice: Automated Vehicle Testing, which outlines a clear framework to support and promote the safe tracking of self-driving vehicle technology.

Between 2018 and 2022 the Britain The self-driving vehicle sector alone generated £475 million in direct investment and created 1,500 new jobs. Self-driving vehicles can support areas previously affected by driver shortages, such as transportation, and where work can be dangerous, such as mining.

The law provides the most comprehensive legal framework of its kind worldwide, defining who is liable AVs This means that drivers can be assured that while their vehicle is in self-driving mode, they will not be held responsible for the way the vehicle drives. For the first time, companies such as insurers, software developers and car manufacturers can take on this responsibility.

To ensure these vehicles are safe on UK roads, the vehicle approval system will be supported by a fully independent incident investigation function. This will foster the same culture of learning and continuous improvement that has made our aviation industry one of the safest in the world. Companies will have ongoing obligations to keep their vehicles safe and ensure they continue to operate in accordance with UK laws.

Trials show how self-driving vehicles can be used to improve the lives of millions of Britons – by improving mobility and access to services, reducing isolation and better connecting rural communities. The law makes vehicle use accessible to millions of people who were previously unable to do so, increasing transportation accessibility across the country.

Paul Newman, founder and CTO from Oxa, said:

The enormous amount of work that went into it DfTLegal committees and CCAV in drafting the Automated Vehicles Act, this law helped with the strongest support from all parties. We now have legislation on autonomous vehicles that is more extensive in scope and clearer in requirements than in any other country.

The action gives the Britain New momentum is building because developers like Oxa will have to comply with the world’s most comprehensive autonomous vehicle laws to deploy the technology in vehicles here. Meeting the highest AV standards will make British companies world leaders with technology that is the safest and most secure AI systems most trusted – all essential to building business and public confidence in autonomy worldwide.

Alex Kendall, co-founder and Director from Wayve, said:

I am pleased that the Automated Vehicles Bill has received Royal Assent. This is a crucial milestone for the Britain‘s deployment of self-driving technology and strengthens the Britain as a world leader in regulating this sector. We are grateful to the government and to all who entered into discussions with us about the importance of this legislation.

Self-driving technology promises a safer, smarter and more sustainable future of transportation. There is still some way to go with secondary legislation before we can fully reap the benefits of self-driving vehicles in the future Britainbut we are confident that the government will prioritize these next steps so that this technology can be deployed as quickly as possible.

Mike Hawes, Motorcycle Manufacturers and Traders Association (SMMT) Chief Executive, said:

This is a turning point for Britain automotive innovation and road safety in the Britain. Self-driving vehicles will revolutionize our society, and this new law will help make ambition a reality Britain in addition to a handful of other global markets that already have their regulatory framework in place.

The industry will continue its close work with government and other stakeholders to develop the necessary secondary legislation that will enable the safe and responsible commercial rollout of autonomous vehicles and the significant social and economic benefits they will deliver. Britain.

Richard Cuerden, director of the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), said:

TRL welcomes the AV Bill and the ambitious direction it sets to improve transportation. The automated technology, software and sensors, and the business models to deliver new services, are developing rapidly. By creating a regulatory framework, the government is giving the sector the confidence and motivation to continue with this, and we expect investment in the sector to increase Britainin this growing sector.

The promise is more accessible, safer and greener travel for goods and people TRL we are working hard to ensure this is delivered. Commercial success will only be possible if the public has confidence in the technology and chooses to use it AVs. Here, safety is critical and we work hard to develop safe engineering and system requirements while recognizing that it is equally important to build public confidence.

The passage of the new law follows consistent government support for the self-driving car industry – with more than £600 million in joint investment from government and industry since 2015. This funding has helped create innovative new businesses, build the AV supply chain and lays the foundation for the early commercial market.

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