Automated Vehicles Act receives Royal Assent

Self-driving vehicles could join the UK car parc within two years after the government’s Automated Vehicles Act was passed into law today.

The law requires self-driving vehicles to pass rigorous safety assessments before joining UK roads, and stipulates that they must reach at least the same standards set by ‘careful and competent human drivers.’

By passing the new AV Act, the government believes the UK is well-placed to capitalise on an industry which is estimated to be worth up to £42bn by 2035, creating upwards of 38,000 skilled jobs.

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said: “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. While this doesn’t take away people’s ability to choose to drive themselves, our landmark legislation means self-driving vehicles can be rolled out on British roads as soon as 2026, in a real boost to both safety and our economy.”

Automated Vehicles Act

Meanwhile, industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has described this as a watershed moment for the UK.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said:

“This is a watershed moment for UK automotive innovation and road safety in the UK. Self-driving vehicles will revolutionise our society, and this new law will help turn ambition into reality, putting the UK alongside a handful of other global markets that already have their regulatory frameworks in place.

“The industry will continue its close collaboration with government and other stakeholders to develop the necessary secondary legislation that will enable the safe and responsible commercial rollout of self-driving vehicles and the significant social and economic benefits they will afford the UK.”

The news has also been welcomed by insurers, who have worked with government to establish insurance requirements for autonomous vehicles.

Jonathan Fong, manager for general Insurance policy at the ABI said: “With the Automated Vehicles Act having received Royal Assent, the UK has firmly put itself on the path to being world leaders on automated vehicle technology. The insurance industry has played a pivotal role in enabling and supporting its development which has the potential to drastically improve road safety.

“The industry has worked with government from the outset to establish and define many of the requirements included in both the AV Act and previous legislation, and has also given researchers and developers the necessary support they need by providing insurance for trials so that they can test and improve AV capabilities.

“As this technology continues to evolve, so must the legislation and we look forward to further collaboration between insurers, government and the wider motor industry to address any potential roadblocks around data sharing, road safety and cyber security.”