Law Commission: Foreign remote vehicles should be ‘prohibited’

Law Commission remote driving Remote vehicle developed by Oxbotica

The Law Commission has published its review of remote driving in the UK and has given guidance on how it should be regulated.

Its paper states that the current laws surrounding remote driving technology are too vague when the vehicles cannot be seen by the driver and suggest a new prohibition measure “immediately”.

This new measure would allow firms developing such technologies to register for a vehicle special order from the Vehicle Certification Agency to not use a safety driver further than can be seen by the operator.

Nicholas Paines KC, Public Law Commissioner, said: “Our advice concludes that in the immediate term, the Government would be able to address some gaps in the law around remote driving using existing powers, while also providing a path for companies to use the technology lawfully provided that their systems are safe.”

There are also calls in the Law Commission’s paper for a new remote driving regulatory system and for those wishing to operate to be granted a specific remote driving licence.

Driving in the UK from abroad should not be allowed, according to the Law Commission, due to the “lack of enforcement powers”.

“Regulations must respond to other fundamental concerns around security threats and liability in the event of an accident,” added Paines.

The Law Commission claimed remote driving operators should be subject be open to prosecution unless technical issues occur such as connection problems, but should be accountable to regulatory sanctions and potential prosecution.

Jesse Norman, transport minister, said: “The Government needs to ensure that safety is at the forefront of the use of any new technology, and the Department will carefully consider the Law Commission’s recommendations.”

Many firms around the UK are developing autonomous driving technology such as HVS, which is developing a self-driving hydrogen truck with Asda.

The suggested guidance comes after the government announced plans to have self-driving vehicles roaming around the UK by 2025.