TPS has submitted its views to a consultation by the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission on the Legal Regulation of Automated Road Vehicles. The consultation addressed a wide variety of potential legal issues surrounding automated vehicles (AV), addressing responsibilities and liabilities in a variety of scenarios.
TPS identified five modes of AV operation :
(A)    manually driven
(B)   user-in-charge mode where the user is constantly monitoring the driving environment and is able to take charge or countermand the automatic driving system (ADS) at any time
(C)    unsupervised user-in-charge where the operating domain is such that the ADS will bring the vehicle to a halt if it is unable to decide what to do, and the user-in-charge will take over quickly but not necessarily instantaneously. The user-in-charge can undertake limited secondary tasks.
(D    wholly unsupervised user-in-charge where the ADS will drive the vehicle for part of its journey on exclusive highways or parts of highways specially designed for use by AV's only. (for example, an exclusive lane on a motorway). The user-in-charge can undertake a variety of secondary tasks and need not be ready to take control until the end of the ADS part of the journey.
(E)  operation without any user-in-charge on exclusive segregated infrastructure (eg Heathrow Pods, within purpose-designed industrial infrastructure, or perhaps in an automated parking area)
Our responses highlighted the differences in regulations and rules applicable to each mode of operation.
TPS took the view that operation of an AV on the general public highway in a mixed user environment without a user-in-charge (ie driverless) is unlikely in the foreseeable future and that it is premature to draft legislation to cover this scenario.
Finally, although possibly outside the remit of this particular consultation, TPS pointed to the absence of independent research to forecast the effects of AV on trip making, car use and emissions, and noted that the results of such research could have some influence on the regulatory environment for AV.
TPS Director, Tim Morton, commented : "It is TPS' duty to keep abreast of technological development and seek to understand how this will influence the wider transport planning scene. The Law Commissions are to be complimented on their realistic identification of the legal issues associated with AV operation and we hope that our responses will help them to develop their thinking further.
To download the TPS response, click here



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