The economic, environmental and safety benefits of
The UK has an opportunity to harness the revolutionary capabilities of AI and create a new world-leading sector by implementing the legislative proposals for a new self-driving vehicle regulatory regime made by the Law Commission in 2022.
'The economic, environmental and safety benefits of self-driving vehicles', published today by the Self-Driving Vehicle APPG, explore these opportunities and the potential benefits that will come from embracing this technology. This paper presents the findings of a consultation held by the APPG during summer 2023, and examines the issues that were discussed by contributors in greater detail. It aims to provide Government, industry, and stakeholders with useful recommendations on how the UK can deliver the rollout of self-driving vehicles to the benefit of all.
In August 2022, the UK Government outlined its vision for self-driving vehicles (SDVs) and committed to initiating deployments by 2025, accompanied by a comprehensive regulatory framework to ignite a transportation revolution. The Self-Driving Vehicles APPG supports this vision but believes that subsequent Government announcements and funding, including £18.5 million for the connected and automated mobility supply chain and advanced trialling plans, are insufficient. The next crucial step is to establish legislation that will provide a strategic roadmap to accelerate the rollout of SDVs. The consultation found that the benefits of the adoption of SDVs on UK roads were numerous.
There is an unique opportunity for the UK to lead an industry that could be worth £750 billion globally by 2035. The UK is already home to several innovative SDV companies that are trialling their vehicles on UK roads, and the Government’s analysis of the sector showed that it could potentially generate £42 billion and 35,000 jobs for the UK economy by 2035. A recent study by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) suggested the connected and automated mobility (CAM) sector as a whole could be worth £66 billion by 2040.
Chair of the Self-Driving APPG, Ben Everitt MP, said:
As the Prime Minister said earlier this year, the UK has true potential to be a force for good in
the development of future technologies that will change the world - and that starts with smart regulation. Self-driving is an example of a sector where the UK has shown huge technical leadership, and our cutting-edge research will help make sure that this is a technology that can really benefit everyone. Now is the time to make sure we can compete on the world stage with our peers in the age of frontier technologies.
Recommendation 1: The Government should introduce legislation to legalise the commercial deployment of SDVs in the UK in this year’s King’s Speech. This is vital to ensuring the UK does not get left behind by other countries in this rapidly evolving sector.
Recommendation 2: The Government should introduce a regime for advanced driverless trials of SDVs, considering what alternative legislative pathways exist to enable this within the next few months.
Recommendation 3: The Government should demonstrate UK leadership in AI by retaining a sector-specific approach to regulation. It should also consider the skills required by regulators to undertake their duties in relation to AI regulation in their respective sectors.
Recommendation 4: The Government should allocate more research and development funding to examine the potential benefits of communication and smart technology to optimise SDV road use to reduce emissions and increase safety.
Recommendation 5: The Government should encourage cross-sector dialogue to ensure that the potential benefits of SDV technology are understood and harnessed by other modes of transport including the rail, maritime, and aviation sectors.
Recommendation 6: The Government should ensure legislation for SDVs provides clarity for insurers and developers to create robust safety protocols and liability frameworks that encourage a culture of safety across the industry.
Recommendation 7: The Government should clarify the safety controls that developers need to have in place for deployment, and ensure these are balanced, proportionate, and comparable to the safety control in place on today’s road network. It should also provide more detail on the carefulness and competency standard, including how it will guide licensing criteria.
Recommendation 8: The Government should work with industry to champion the self-driving sector and boost public awareness about the benefits of SDV technology. As part of this public awareness programme, the Government needs to develop a public-private partnership to develop communications guidance on SDVs. This will help to demystify the technology and prevent confusion amongst the general public.
About the consultation
In June 2023 the Self-Driving APPG launched a consultation into the economic, environmental, and safety benefits of self- driving vehicles as well as the public perceptions of the technology.
The consultation included two evidence workshops with contributors from across industry, parliament, and other relevant organisations, as well as a call for evidence. The consultation sought to gather evidence from a wide range of sources in order to raise awareness of self-driving, highlight the barriers to commercial deployment in the UK, and identify what actions can be taken to address these.
The consultation concluded September 2023.