Autonomous cars in UK green lit in Queen’s Speech

The UK could see the introduction of autonomous and technologically-advanced cars in the next few years after new legislation was announced in the Queen’s Speech.

The Modern Transport Bill, announced at the House of Lords on Wednesday 18 May, gave the green light to the buying and testing of autonomous vehicles and related technology in the UK. The Queen said that the new legislation would “ensure the UK is at forefront of technology for new forms of transport, including autonomous and electric vehicles”.

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While the current proposals don’t account for the use of fully autonomous vehicles by the general public on UK roads, it does pave the way for this process to happen slowly, with controlled tests. It also means that the autonomous lane switching technology offered by electric vehicles such as Tesla’s Model S or the automatic parking offered by some Ford cars will be available to UK car buyers in the near future.

Furthermore, there were changes announced to how such vehicles will be insured. According to the proposals, car owners will be able to insure vehicles using autonomous technology under regular insurance policies. This means that companies wanting to buy and test such vehicles in the UK can do so legally. Later on, it may even lead to thousands of autonomous vehicles on UK roads.

Paul Willcox, the European chairman of Japanese manufacturer Nissan, which plans to introduce its own self-driving technology to the UK, said: “New legislation, such as we’ve seen announced, that supports the adoption and integration of autonomous vehicle technologies, is a positive for the UK.

“Autonomously-equipped vehicles will improve the safety and well-being of drivers, with fewer collisions and reduced traffic congestion. The UK economy can also benefit, by playing a pivotal role in the global automotive industry estimated to be worth £900 billion by 2025.”