Guidelines Established for Self-Driving Car Testing in the UK
The future of self-driving cars is coming, but the rules that apply to them still fall into a bit of a grey area. Do these autonomous automobiles need liability insurance? Do they need to have someone behind the wheel? Can testing be conducted in public spaces? Since there are currently quite a few driverless cars on the roads of the United Kingdom, the appropriate authorities thought it was time to answer these questions and more by setting clear and defined guidelines for driverless car testing.
Existing rules of the road don’t account for self-driving cars, and the Department for Transport has already shown support for companies developing self-driving vehicles. Therefore it’s no surprise that these new guidelines come straight from the DfT. The newly-written Code of Practice sets out some basic ground rules specifically for those testing the vehicles, but keep in mind that these aren’t final laws, and they certainly don’t apply to consumers since self-driving cars haven’t been made available to the public yet.
– A backup driver must be present and able to take control at a moment’s notice.
– Operators must hold a valid UK driver’s license.
– Operators must be very familiar with the vehicle’s systems and existing laws.
– Driverless vehicles must carry car insurance coverage.
– Operators must adhere to the rules of the road even when the vehicle is in self-driving mode.
– Driverless cars must collect and record information to help pinpoint issues and prevent future accidents.
Since many of these guidelines fall under the umbrella of “laws that drivers would normally have to follow”, most companies currently testing the technology have little to nothing to worry about, but it should be noted that even when the vehicle is in self-driving mode, the person sitting in the driver’s seat must still buckle up and stay away from distractions like cell phones. Again, these rules were put in place for the benefit of testing – these aren’t the same laws that will be laid out prior to the commercial release of the first self-driving cars, so if you were dreaming of a future where you could check your email on your phone during an automated commute, don’t lose hope yet. As self-driving cars become more reliable, fewer restrictions may be put in place.
Many self-driving cars aren’t even being tested on public roads. Many are being tested in public parks, on walkways, and on private roads, so these new guidelines shouldn’t slow the progress of this technology. In fact, with on-board recording equipment now a mandatory addition to all self-driving cars on public roads, we can rest assured that a high percentage of issues can be very quickly identified and rectified, theoretically speeding along the progress of this emerging technology.
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