UK to sweep away insurance rules to boost driverless cars

The UK government has launched a consultation on changes to insurance rules and motoring regulations as it pursues its plans to allow driverless cars to take to the streets by 2020.

The market for autonomous driving is worth €1bn worldwide, according to the British government, but needs to overcome legal obstacles including determining who would be responsible in the event of an accident.

Chancellor George Osborne announced plans in March to test vehicles on motorways and said the government would bring forward proposals to remove regulatory barriers to the technology. 

Britain’s business and transport ministries have now said they aimed to sweep away rules which block driverless cars including those in its Highway Code, a set of rules and information which must be followed by motorists.

“Insurance law will be changed so that, in the future, motorists who have handed control to their ‘self-driving’ cars can be insured properly,” the government said on its website.

“The Highway code and regulations are to be altered so advanced driver-assistance systems that change lanes on the motorway and park the vehicle by remote control can be used safely,” it added.

A spokesman said cars with autonomous technology would still need to have a driver present, who could take control of the wheel if needed. The consultation will close in mid-September.

Alphabet’s unit Google is among the firms which want to eventually deploy fully autonomous vehicles without human controls, and major automakers are racing to develop vehicles that can drive themselves at least part of the time.

Britain will also launch a competition for a further £30m (€35m) for research and development of innovative connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.

BMW said last month it was overhauling its research and development to focus on self-driving cars for the future. 

It also plans a sportier version of the i3 by 2018 and aims to launch the next new electric car in 2021.


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