Thatcham Research offers cautious welcome to AV Act 

Thatcham Research has called for further legislation to ensure the safe introduction of autonomous vehicles to UK roads after the Automated Vehicles Act received Royal Assent this week. 

The Act, which sets out clear guidelines around self-driving safety assessments and terminology, could pave the way for autonomous vehicles to join UK roads as early as 2026 and enable the country to capitalise on a market expected to be worth £42bn by 2035, creating 38,000 skilled jobs. 

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has welcomed what it calls a ‘watershed moment’ for UK automotive and said self-driving technology can revolutionise society. 

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “This is a watershed moment for UK automotive innovation and road safety in the UK. Self-driving vehicles will revolutionise our society, and this new law will help turn ambition into reality, putting the UK alongside a handful of other global markets that already have their regulatory frameworks in place.” 

However, Thatcham Research, which worked with insurers to develop a report establishing the insurance requirements around automated vehicles, has said that further legislation around safety, access to data, and potential cyber threats will be critical. 

Tom Leggett, Vehicle Technology Manager at Thatcham Research, said: “I am pleased the AV Act has received Royal Assent. Reassuringly, the act recognises several points raised in our joint Insurer Requirements for Automated Vehicles report.This highlights an understanding from lawmakers that working alongside insurers and other key automotive stakeholders is essential to ensuring the safe adoption of this technology. 

“However, as our report details, there is still work to be done through secondary legislation to ensure this technology is adopted sustainably. Challenges remain around the clarity of insurance responsibility in the event of an AV collision, the clear identification of self-driving capabilities, and the possible cybersecurity risk.” 

Meanwhile, Jonathan Fong, Manager for General Insurance policy at the ABI, added, “The insurance industry has played a pivotal role in enabling and supporting its development which has the potential to drastically improve road safety. As this technology continues to evolve, so must the legislation and we look forward to further collaboration between insurers, government and the wider motor industry to address any potential roadblocks around data sharing, road safety and cyber security.” 


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