Autonomous vehicles update
The way in which people and goods travel is changing rapidly. As a new era of transport continues to unfold, Kennedys is here to keep you up to date on the latest developments and what they mean for you and your business.
18 Mar 2021
Safety standards for autonomous vehicles should be high to ensure success, says Kennedys
Responding to the third and final Law Commission consultation on a regulatory framework for autonomous vehicles (AVs) (which closed on 18 March 2021), we have highlighted that the minimum safety standard for an AV should be above that of the “average” human driver as to do anything less than this is to risk public confidence in this emergent technology.
In our response we have said that an AV should be able to drive at least as safely as a “reasonably competent and careful human driver” and, on many occasions, adopt a safer overall standard.
One of the most significant perceived benefits of the introduction of AVs is the reduction of road traffic collisions. We therefore consider the appropriate standard should be an elevated standard, and safer than the average human. This would include better reaction times, the ability to assess the surrounding environment and potential hazards and so on.
Niall Edwards, Partner, commented:
Whilst we can see the need for transition demands to be sent when a vehicle is moving on or off certain road types, there is the sense within this consultation that the AV may be sending transition demands back to the user-in-charge in perhaps too wide a set of emergency circumstances.
We believe that the correct approach and the first rule would be to start with the ambition that an AV can and will respond to all emergency situations in at least as safe a manner as a human driver, if not better.
- Safety standards for autonomous vehicles should be high to ensure success
- Kennedys warns government over obstacles ahead for autonomous vehicle technology trials
- Kennedys backs combination of criminal and regulatory regimes to help build confidence in driverless public transport
- Kennedys tells government it must get people talking on autonomous vehicles
18 Dec 2020
Law Commission consultation on Automated Vehicles – part 3
The Law Commission has today published its third and final consultation, proposing a regulatory framework for Automated Vehicles (AVs). The consultation closes on 18 March 2021 and the Commission intends to publish its final report by the end of 2021.
Drawing on responses from a wide range of consultees to the earlier stages of the review, the consultation paper provides overarching proposals for the safe deployment of AVs on British roads. Specifically, the proposals include consideration of the responsibilities of users and fleet operators, civil and criminal liability, access to data and cybersecurity risks.
Having responded to the two previous consultations, Kennedys will be responding to this important final stage of the three-year review.
27 Oct 2020
Kennedys warns Government over obstacles ahead for autonomous vehicle technology
In a response submitted today to the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles on the Safe Use of Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS), which could lead to the legalisation of “lane keeping” technology and allow drivers to relinquish control of a vehicle, we have emphasised that consumer confidence in the technology, including several measures to ensure users of this technology are fully educated, informed and aware on the operation and safe use of the system, will be key.
The current regulatory framework for ALKS vehicles falls under AEVA (Autonomous and Electric Vehicles Act 2018). However, we have raised concerns over AEVA’s suitability. AEVA was a preliminary piece of legislation that was designed to ‘kick-start’ this area, and uses very broad terms, which are difficult to apply to the very specific driving environment set out in the proposals.
The Government’s ambition to place the UK at the forefront of new technologies, and data-driven innovation is clear and commendable. However, that shift requires a suitable policy framework to achieve those aims and, in particular, address concerns around public safety, where the liability rests when accidents occur and data security.
Faced with these challenges, the Government needs to take heed of these issues and support data-driven innovation in a joined up and comprehensive way. The Government must establish a trusted data framework and listen to the views of end-users in order to realise its vision of technical leadership.
18 Aug 2020
Consultation launched on use of “lane keeping” technology on Great Britain’s motorways
Following the approval of the Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) Regulation (the ALKS Regulation) in June 2020 by the United Nations, the UK Government is seeking views from industry on the use of this system within the UK’s current legal framework - particularly whether vehicles using this technology should be legally defined as an “automated vehicle”.
ALKS technology is defined in the ALKS Regulation. By way of a summary, it is a system that is activated by the driver, keeping the vehicle in lane at speeds of 60 km/h (37 mph) or less for extended periods without the need for further input from the driver.
The call for evidence launched on 18 August 2020 is also seeking views on government proposals to allow the safe use of this system on British roads at speeds of up to 70mph, subject to potentially setting additional requirements on the technology that must not conflict with existing requirements under the ALKS Regulation.
The consultation is being run by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles within the Department for Transport and closes on 27 October 2020. Crucially, the Government says that ALKS enabled vehicles are likely to be available in the UK by Spring 2021.
Third Law Commission consultation paper expected in fourth quarter of 2020
As part of the regulatory review for the safe deployment of automated vehicles in the UK by the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Law Commission of Scotland, publication of a third consultation paper is expected in the fourth quarter of this year.
The third consultation paper “will consider the safety assurance scheme for automated vehicles, corporate liability and other issues such as access to data”.
Drawing on responses received to the previous two consultation papers in this three-year review, the intention is “to formulate overarching proposals on the way forward”, with a final report to follow in 2021 setting out recommendations on all issues.
20 May 2020
Regulation of automated passenger-only transport services must be sufficiently flexible
The results of Part 2 of the Law Commissions’ joint consultation into the regulation of automated vehicles, “emphasised how uncertain the future has become, and how regulation must be sufficiently flexible to deal with a wide variety of eventualities.” These uncertainties having been “amplified” since this part of the consultation closed in February 2020.
The focus of Part 2 of the consultation was on a new form of transport service which “uses highly automated vehicles to supply road journeys to passengers without a human driver or user-in-charge”, capable of travelling empty or with passengers.
Published on 20 May 2020, the analysis of the written responses received from a wide range of consultees - that included insurance organisations, legal professionals, public sector organisations, and original equipment manufacturers – highlighted Kennedys’ thinking on several key issues.
In our response we highlighted that any new regulatory structure should be outcome focussed and provide flexibility to regulators to achieve those outcomes.
That way, regulation will be better placed to keep pace with technology and not pose a barrier to innovation – a regulatory framework that can evolve and adapt as the technology develops is essential.
We also called for certainty in respect of legal responsibility for insuring, keeping the vehicle roadworthy and installing safety critical updates.
A third consultation paper is expected later this year, “which will consider the safety assurance scheme for automated vehicles, corporate liability and other issues such as access to data”. The aim being for the third paper to include detailed proposals, leading to a final report in 2021 setting out recommendations on all issues.
3 Feb 2020
Kennedys backs combination of criminal and regulatory regimes to help build confidence in driverless public transport
In our response to Part 2 of the Law Commissions’ consultation on autonomous vehicles (which closed on 3 February 2020), we have recommended that new criminal offences dealing with cyber-attacks on buses, taxis and other forms of driverless public transport will be needed as the technology emerges.
We highlighted the importance of bringing public sentiment along with technological development in our response to a Law Commission consultation on the regulation of what is referred to as Highly Automated Road Passenger Services, or HARPS. This refers to a service which uses highly automated vehicles to supply road journeys to passengers without a human driver or user-in-charge with legal responsibility for its safety.
We acknowledge that there will be many challenges in implementing passenger-only transport services, not least ensuring safety, accessibility for all, and data privacy to name a few.
The approach taken to meet these challenges will ultimately determine consumer acceptance and the extent to which these new services will be successfully adopted.
Equally, we feel that “autonomous vehicles represent opportunities to unlock new capacity in urban transport systems by improving efficiency within the existing infrastructure, potentially reducing the need to invest billions in new metro or rail systems, and support the green agenda”.
16 Oct 2019
Next phase in review of regulatory framework for automated vehicles launched
The focus of Part 2 of the Law Commissions’ three-year review is on a new form of service which “uses highly automated vehicles to supply road journeys to passengers without a human driver or user-in-charge”, capable of travelling empty or with passengers. Referred to in the consultation paper as Highly Automated Road Passenger Services, or HARPS, it is envisaged that this new form of service will require a new regulatory regime, distinct from those already applicable to taxis, private hire or public service vehicles.
Key amongst the matters for consideration under the consultation paper are wider transport goals. In particular, creating a regulatory regime for HARPS that “should promote a service that benefits society more generally”, with a focus on accessibility for disabled and older people.
The consultation closes on 3 February 2020.
19 Jun 2019
Collaboration is key to safe regulation of autonomous vehicles
The results of the Law Commissions’ joint preliminary consultation into the safe regulation of autonomous vehicles published today, echo the importance of manufacturers working collaboratively with government and insurers on data management in the new driverless vehicles environment.
The analysis of the written responses received from a wide range of consultees - that included insurers, legal professionals, local government, and manufacturers – highlighted Kennedys’ thinking on several key issues.
We welcome the Law Commissions’ detailed analysis. The responses highlight that it is absolutely vital that the government and key stakeholders work collaboratively to ensure that autonomous vehicle technology is brought to our roads safely, and under a clear and transparent insurance and liability framework that is sufficiently agile to keep pace with technological advances.
The next phase of the three-year review being undertaken by the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission, will be to consult this year on the regulation of automated vehicles in public transport and mobility as a service.
19 Feb 2019
Government must get people talking on autonomous vehicles
In our response to the Law Commissions’ preliminary consultation on autonomous vehicles (which closed on 18 February 2019), we confirmed our belief that government need to work centrally to further facilitate meetings and communication between various stakeholders, and in particular between insurers and manufacturers.
We recognise that while there have been some steps from government to make this happen, a lot more needs to be done if it is to improve underwriting and the provision of insurance for autonomous vehicles. We have also said that the role of the “user-in-charge” - the person operating the controls of the automated vehicle when not in autonomous mode – must be made clear now and cannot wait until the technology further develops.
6 Feb 2019
New Code of Practice to support advanced testing of AVs
The Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles has published its Code of Practice: Automated vehicle trialling (February 2019), which updates the previous version published in 2015. One of the overarching aims (as set out at paragraph 1.7 of the Code) is to:
Support and promote the safe trialling and use of automated vehicle technologies and services on public roads or in other public places in the UK and build public confidence in automated vehicle technologies and services.
8 Nov 2018
Review of regulatory framework for automated vehicles launched
As part of a review of the regulatory framework for the safe deployment of automated vehicles in the UK, the Law Commissions of England and Wales, and Scotland published its preliminary consultation paper on 8 November 2018. Closing on 8 February 2018, the consultation represents a positive step towards developing an appropriate framework following the enactment of the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018.
With a focus on the need to fill any gaps in existing civil and criminal liability, as well as changes to ensure appropriate vehicle safety assurance and transparency from manufacturers, the consultation is part of a three-year project running from March 2018.
13 Sep 2018
International, industrywide standards are needed for autonomous vehicle liability
While a variety of discussions are taking place around the world, there are already differences in the coverage and liability systems emerging. This brings into focus the importance of governments and the whole industry – from trade bodies to manufacturers and the entire supply chain – working together to create a singular legal framework, global to national, for what will happen if an autonomous vehicle is involved in an accident.
Drawing from our recent research on driverless vehicles, we have published a special article on autonomous vehicle liability, as featured in Raconteur's 'Future of Transport' report in The Times.
19 Jul 2018
Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018 receives Royal Assent
The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill received Royal Assent on 19 July 2018. The intention behind the legislation is to emphasise that if there is an insurance ‘event’ (accident) the compensation route for the individual remains within the motor insurance settlement framework, rather than through a product liability framework against a manufacturer.
In most cases, first instance liability will fall on insurers so that victims of accidents caused by autonomous vehicles will be able to receive compensation easily and quickly, albeit with the insurer’s ability to pursue recovery from a product liability or professional indemnity insurer.
18 Oct 2017
Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill presented to parliament
The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill was presented to parliament on 18 October 2017, with the aim of supporting innovation in self-driving technology in the UK.
The Bill was introduced as part of the government’s industrial strategy to promote the development and deployment of both automated and electric vehicles, in line with policies on climate change. The legislation is split into two parts: one which extends the existing compulsory third party insurance framework to cover the use of automated vehicles; and a second which deals with electric and hydrogen powered vehicles charging infrastructure.