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Driverless Vehicles

Department for Transport written question – answered on 15th March 2016.

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Photo of Lord Greaves Lord Greaves Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether any controls exist over the operation of unmanned ground vehicles (1) on highways, and (2) in other public spaces; whether controls exist over the use of such vehicles on pavements and other walkways, cycleways and bridleways; in the event of an accident or other event involving such a vehicle on a highway, who is responsible (a) for assessing responsibility, and (b) for paying any compensation that might be due; whether such vehicles must display information identifying the owner or controller; whether traffic police have any jurisdiction over such machines when being used on a highway; whether the police or other authorities have any powers to deal with such machines in the event of them causing a public nuisance; and whether insurance is required for the use of such machines.

Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), Parliamentary Under-Secretary

All vehicles, including connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), must be used in line with UK road traffic law. Failure to comply with UK law may well result in enforcement agencies taking action.

The Pathway to driverless cars: a regulatory review, published in February 2015, sets out how current laws apply to CAVs, and points to where the position is not clear and should be reviewed further. For example, chapter 13 deals with insurance, and Annex B looks at innovative personal transport.

In addition, to secure the safe development and introduction of CAVs in the UK, the Pathway sets out a number of action points. The government is working on these, including having published the Code of Practice for testing automated vehicles in July 2015, to ensure that British citizens and businesses will benefit from CAVs in the short and long term.

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