UK executives call for legislation to support autonomous vehicle industry

autinomous vehicles legislation UK

Leading UK business figures have sent a letter to Boris Johnson urging the prime minister to introduce legislation that supports the development of autonomous vehicles.

The joint letter, seen by Sky News, was signed by around 20 executives including Virgin Group CEO Josh Bayliss and Ocado chief executive Tim Steiner.

It called on the government to introduce autonomous vehicle legislation next month in the Queen’s Speech marking the State Opening of Parliament.

According to Sky News, the letter was coordinated by Alex Kendall, co-founder and CEO of self-driving vehicle tech firm Wayve, and insurance company AXA.

Wayve confirmed the letter and its role in coordinating it to UKTN.

The group of executives warned that Britain is at risk of missing an opportunity to become a global leader in autonomous vehicle technology if the government doesn’t ramp up support for the burgeoning sector.

“This technology is the most exciting innovation for transport in decades and has the potential to level up every corner of the UK, improve the country’s productivity, create jobs, reduce emissions, improve road safety, and bolster opportunities everywhere,” the letter stated.

“The industry has the potential to unleash economic growth across the whole of the UK.”

The letter also pointed to research that predicted the global market for autonomous vehicles would be worth £650bn by 2035.

“This is a critical year in the development of this technology, as we see more examples of AVs moving closer to deployment,” the letter stated.

“The government needs to introduce legislation this year, to ensure the UK remains a world leader in AVs and continues attracting investment to the UK.”

The letter added that there is a risk of falling behind internationally and that the group is “aware that other countries are looking to legislate this year”.

Other signatories of the letter included Simon Gregg, who runs ecommerce operations for Asda.

This letter comes after the Department for Transport recently proposed a change to the highway code, which would see insurance companies instead of consumers liable for accidents in self-driving cars, as well as determining rules for what activities motorists are allowed to conduct while in automated driving modes.

Despite recent advances in autonomous vehicle technology, experts say fully autonomous self-driving cars – known as level four or five – remain years away from arriving on roads.