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Report on the Self-Driving Vehicles APPG media briefing at Wayve in December 2023

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Self-Driving Vehicles APPG holds London media briefing on AV Bill

The Self-Driving Vehicles All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) held a media briefing in London this week to provide an overview of the UK’s new Automated Vehicles (AV) Bill.

Held at the London HQ of self-driving tech leader Wayve, the expert panel included Sarah Gates, Director of Public Policy at Wayve, Sarah Thomson, Public Affairs Manager at insurer AXA UK, and Brian Wong, partner and specialist in transport at law firm Burges Salmon.

Wayve self-driving testing in London
Wayve self-driving testing in London

Pleasingly, media in attendance included representatives from not only the usual automotive, fleet and insurance titles, but also national press. Such wider engagement can only help in terms of educating the public, with the unfortunate side-effect of reducing the gaiety resulting from hyperbolic headlines.

Self-driving explainer

Following a basic explainer on how the AV Bill will create a new safety and liability framework for the commercial deployment of self-driving vehicles, they ran through essential terminology including Authorised Self-Driving Entity (ASDE), Operational Design Domain (ODD), User-In-Charge (UiC), No-User-in-Charge (NUiC) and the SAE Levels.

The two statistics that seemed to capture most attention were:

  • In 2022, road traffic accidents cost the UK economy £43bn, of which £2.3bn was a direct cost to the NHS in medical treatment and ambulance services.
  • The DfT estimates that 85% of road traffic accidents are caused by human error incl. reckless behaviour, disobeying traffic laws, and driver impairment/distraction.

Self-driving discussion

Addressing the concern that drivers are actively resisting assisted driving solutions, AXA has published new research confirming that “41% of drivers are switching off vital safety features because they find them annoying”. This, of course, is not self-driving. As we’ve covered before, it is why some experts believe it would be safer to move straight to Level4.

Andy Keane, AXA UK Technical Head of Commercial Motor, said: “The Bill creates new government entities that will assume liability for regulating automated vehicles. Drivers will have immunity from criminal liability for how a vehicle drives while automated vehicle features are engaged.

“However, the fundamental principle of insurance for vehicles will remain unchanged. Every vehicle on our roads will still need to be insured by either the owner/registered keeper or the NUIC operator, such as someone running a fleet of self-driving vehicles. 

“As this technology evolves, we expect a standard motor insurance policy to form the basis of insurance for self-driving vehicles, with adaptations made to accommodate the new technology.”

Further points of discussion included the AV legislation serving as a blueprint for the sector-specific regulation of AI-based technologies, the role of self-driving in cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the opportunity for the UK to provide global leadership on AV regulatory frameworks.

For further details on the economic, environmental and safety benefits, please see the recent Self-Driving Vehicles APPG report

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Author: Neil Kennett

Neil is MD of Featurebank Ltd. He launched in 2019.