UK Sees Fully Self-Driving Cars Hitting Its Roads Around 2026 - BLOOMBERG
NOVEMBER 09, 2023
(Bloomberg) -- Self-driving cars may be on Britain’s roads as soon as 2026, the UK’s Transport Secretary Mark Harper said, as the government starts crafting a legal framework for technology it hopes will create jobs and lure investment.
The Automated Vehicles Bill, announced as part of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s legislative agenda on Tuesday, will create a legal safety threshold for companies building self-driving vehicles and place liability for the vehicle’s behavior on the manufacturer. It also will prohibit misleading marketing, including using ambiguous language as to whether vehicles are fully self-driving.
“Potentially, we could see fully self-driving vehicles on the road in the next couple of years,” Harper said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “So 2026, that sort of time frame.”
The framework is part of the government’s plan to create a £42 billion ($51.6 billion) industry with 38,000 jobs in the UK by 2035. The legislation is likely to take many months to pass through Parliament before it becomes law, and the government is already behind the curve in establishing regulations compared to other jurisdictions.
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When asked specifically if Tesla Inc.’s marketing of what it calls Full Self-Driving Capability — which the company itself says doesn’t render its vehicles autonomous — would be allowed under the new law, Harper said that manufacturers will “only be able to describe something as self-driving if it actually is, so that customers and drivers are not confused.”
Wayve, a London-based autonomous vehicle startup that’s been pressing the government to craft a regulatory framework, praised the legislation.
“It gives us the confidence to invest in the UK,” Alex Kendall, Wayve’s co-founder and chief executive officer, told Bloomberg. “It’s tragic, the accidents and injuries and deaths that we see on our roads today, and I truly believe this technology can help bring that down to zero.”