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Queen’s Speech paves way for autonomous cars

18 May 2016

Story from FleetWorld

The Queen’s Speech has announced plans on insuring autonomous cars to pave the way for the roll-out of the technology.

The plans form part of the new Modern Transport Bill which is intended keep the UK “at the forefront of technology for new forms of transport, including autonomous and electric vehicles”.

The new laws will allow driverless cars to be insured under ordinary policies. The Transport Bill also includes details on space travel and regulating drones.

James Dalton, ABI director of general insurance policy, said, "Fully automated vehicles will be a safety revolution, even more so than the invention of the seatbelt. More than 90% of road accidents happen because of human error and automated technology will take a lot of the risk off the roads. Fewer accidents means fewer people killed and injured, and that should lead to cheaper insurance premiums.

"Ever since the first vehicles hit the roads, insurers have been responding and adapting to advances in vehicle technology. Insurers are already working on how to shape the right framework to keep insurance as simple and straightforward as possible for the future of driving. The transition from conventional vehicles to a world where drivers become passengers will be the trickiest stage but insurers are committed to supporting the roll-out of this important technology one hundred per cent."

Phil Harrold, automotive partner at PwC, added, "Todays Queen's Speech reinforces the need for the UK to continue investing, both financially and logistically, in order to remain at the cutting edge of new vehicle technology - from propulsion systems to autonomous vehicles.

"In recent years we've seen a gentle creeping of transport automation, with UK engineering driving much of this capability. However  the real road test will be persuading the general public to readily accept even more car or van autonomy, and for developers, manufacturers and the Government to robustly respond to any safety concerns consumers may have.  There are precedents they can lean on - after all, who would have thought 10 or 15 years ago that we'd readily travel on driverless trains at the airport?

"Ultimately, for autonomous consumer transport modes to succeed, it's vital that 'perfection' isn't set as the default benchmark during the highway test phases or on roll-out - we don't expect this of other drivers on the road - and that what is aimed for is a realistic and marked improvement on human fallibility levels."