Client Alert: Connected and autonomous vehicles: The future?
The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has today published a report entitled Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: The future? This thought provoking report makes a number of recommendations to the Government which, if implemented, will have ramifications for many industry sectors.
The Committee advises that Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) is a fast moving area of technology and the Government along with industry and other partners has much to do, in order to ensure that the UK can take full advantage of the opportunities that CAV offer across all sectors.
The Committee recommends that:
- The Government makes policy and investment decisions to enable the UK to receive maximum economic benefit from autonomous vehicles. Of particular note is the recommendation that the Government must broaden its focus so that its work on CAV cuts across all sectors and does not focus so heavily on road vehicles.
- It is envisaged that marine and agriculture sectors may be amongst the first to benefit from new driverless vehicle technologies and the Committee has warned that the Government must not allow media attention around driverless cars to cause it to lose sight of the many potential benefits that CAV can provide to sectors other than those anticipated to benefit the roads sector.
- That a Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) Leadership Council is established as soon as possible to play a key role in developing the strategy for CAV and to ensure expertise and knowledge is shared across all sectors.
- The UK’s road network is likely to require new road and communications infrastructure and improvements will need to be made to ensure better mobile coverage to ensure the full benefits of CAV and to take full advantage of the possibilities of connected vehicles.
- The Government takes action with Highways England and Local Transport Authorities and ensure communication and engagement with industry in order to examine the potential for ensuring that new infrastructure can be future-proofed and will not need expensive retro-fitting.
- The existing automotive manufacturers as well as new entrants in this developing market will carry out their own research and development for fully automated cars and considers that the Government should not need to invest heavily or take a lead in this area. However, the Committee conclude that the Government should continue to invest in the fundamental scientific research in robotics and information technology that underpins CAV.
- Whilst the Committee has stated that the Government should not be involved in developing automated cars, it does recommend that the government must ensure that it prepares for the deployment of fully-automated road vehicles and that this should include one or more large-scale testing environments covering real world urban and rural environments.
- The report notes that the main social, behavioural and ethical questions relating to autonomous cars remain largely unanswered; such as whether they will reduce accidents caused by human error. The Committee heard evidence that autonomous vehicles have the potential to lower the number of road fatalities, but the eradication of human error will only be realised with full automation which could take decades.
A large amount of data is already collected from vehicles and this is likely to increase as use of CAV increases. The ownership and use of this data raises a number of questions around privacy and data protection. Data that is gathered from CAV will need to be used in accordance with data protection law. It is likely that the manufacturers, police and insurers will want access to this data when a CAV is involved in an accident to determine the cause of the accident and fault. The Government is working with interested parties to draw up standards for retention and sharing of data at an international level for an accident involving CAV.
The speed at which autonomous vehicles are being developed and the appetite for these types of technologies combined with the proposals set out in this report is likely to ensure that we will see driverless technologies being trail blazed in marine and agricultural sectors before fully driverless cars become the norm on the streets of the UK. To view the full report, click here.
Bill Committee Evidence session – 14 March 2017
The Public Bill Committee for the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill heard evidence from a number of witnesses. The first session heard evidence from:
- David Williams, Chair of the Automated Driving Insurers Group (ADIG)
- David Wong, Senior Technology and Innovation Manager, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders
- Steve Gooding, Director, RAC Foundation
- Denis Naberezhnykh, Head of ULEVs and Energy, Transport Research Laboratory (TRL)
And the second session heard evidence from:
- Ben Howarth, Senior Policy Adviser for Motor and Liability, Association of British Insurers
- Iain Forbes, Head of the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles
Some of the main points made:
- David Williams noted several times that, on the whole, the insurance industry were happy with the Bill.
- Transport Minister John Hayes, Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald, and Alan Brown MP all asked questions relating to how this new technology might impact upon the cost of motor insurance. Ben Howarth remarked on the competitive nature of the insurance market and argued that autonomous vehicles would eventually drive down the cost of premiums.
- In response to a question from Steve Baker MP on cyber security threats, David Williams said: “The only area we think needs further debate is if insurers will pay for claims in the first instance where there’s an incident such as a massive terrorist incident which caused a problem with a huge number of vehicles globally – I think that may need separate consideration…. we are almost scaremongering about the risk, when we would rather focus on protecting vehicles.”
- In answer to a question from Andy McDonald MP on the criteria of autonomous vehicles, Ben Howarth said that one of the concerns was that it would not be clear to the customer “what cars needed this new insurance, so the clarification that the Government is going to take responsibility for doing so is really welcome.” It would also be helpful for insurance companies to have a “searchable way to find out whether a car is automated.”
- Andrew Selous MP asked about the potential positive impact technology could have on insurance premiums for young drivers. In response, Iain Forbes said: “Technology is helping already. Young people now have access to a wider range of insurance premiums through the use of telematics, for example.”
See below for the Parliamentary timeline.
Set out below is the possible timetable for the parliamentary passage of the Vehicle Technology & Aviation Bill. This takes into account Parliament’s recess dates and set times that are between some of the stages.
This should only be used a guide and is not definitive as there are a number of variables that could affect timings - the principal one being the priority the Government wants to give to it in the context of other Parliamentary business. Any delays could, in theory, drag out the Bill until this time next year but this is unlikely having made an early start on getting the Bill through its stages.
We also know that the Government are very keen to promote driverless technology, and that the Bill is, on balance, not controversial – all good indicators of a smooth passage through both Houses of Parliament.
House of Commons
House of Lords
House of Commons
The Parliamentary Bill page can be viewed here.
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