UK Sets Course for Autonomous Future with New Automated Vehicles Act

The UK government has officially set the stage for a transformative leap in transportation with the enactment of the Automated Vehicles Act, which received Royal Assent on May 20, 2024. The legislation is a landmark move that will see self-driving vehicles on British roads by 2026, promising to enhance road safety by reducing human error, which accounts for a significant portion of road accidents.

ITS UK, representing the transport technology industry, has expressed strong support for the Act, highlighting its potential to foster economic growth and create thousands of skilled jobs within the intelligent transport sector. The organization emphasizes the importance of public awareness and understanding of autonomous technology, which will be key to the successful integration of self-driving vehicles into society.

Economic and Social Benefits

It is expected that the Automated Vehicles Act will be a major economic boon, with the self-driving tech industry projected to be worth up to £42 billion by 2035, creating approximately 38,000 skilled jobs. Beyond economics, the Act also promises to revolutionize mobility, offering new opportunities for those unable to drive and enhancing transport accessibility across the UK.

Safety and Regulatory Framework

Safety is at the forefront of the new legislation, with stringent checks ensuring that autonomous vehicles meet or exceed the safety levels of careful and competent human drivers. The Act also clarifies liability, stating that while a vehicle operates in self-driving mode, the driver is not held accountable for the vehicle’s driving actions. Instead, insurance providers, software developers, and automotive manufacturers will assume responsibility.

A Unified Industry Voice Max Sugarman, Chief Executive of ITS UK, has welcomed the new law, stating that it supports the UK’s ambition to become a global leader in autonomous vehicle technology and artificial intelligence sectors. ITS UK is committed to supporting its members through advocacy, connections, and innovation support, ensuring that the UK remains at the cutting edge of transport technology advancements.