back to article UK law gives green light to self-driving cars from 2026

Self-driving vehicles could be on British roads by 2026, following the Automated Vehicles Act becoming law this week. Allowing for just two years until the technology is deemed able to cope with UK roads could be seen as Elon Musk levels of optimism, however, the act does have a few tricks up its sleeve, notably making it …

  1. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Definitions and consequences

    "... automation level 4, where a driver does not need to intervene when the vehicle is driving itself. The driver is removed from the chain of responsibility"

    In which case they're not really a driver, but a passenger. The big problem I see is when a fully autonomous car one day inevitably runs over and kills someone. The responsible party will then be a corporation not a person, with the financial muscle to cover their corporate ass and the law's inability to identify and punish a culprit other than with fines. That takes us back to the Norse principle of weirgeld, which didn't work well enough to counter the vengeance principle that wrecked the culture (see for example Grettir's saga).

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Definitions and consequences

      Responsibility will be with the owner of the car, not the maker - or at least it's how it should be.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Definitions and consequences

        If the maker is driving, then the maker is responsible for it's actions.

        1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Re: Definitions and consequences

          Maker is not driving though.

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: Definitions and consequences

            They are if there is no requirement for a supervising driver.

            This isn't about current tech, it's about future tech.

            1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

              Re: Definitions and consequences

              No. Car is a tool that as an owner you choose to run or not. You are responsible, not the maker.

              1. sabroni Silver badge
                Facepalm

                Re: You are responsible, not the maker.

                RTFA. If the car is fully autonomous the manufacturer is liable not the passengers.

          2. andy 103

            Re: Definitions and consequences

            Maker is not driving though.

            The clue is in the word self driving.

            There is no driver, at least not in a traditional sense.

            The self driving aspect is done by a combination of software and hardware. The article makes clear that a "driver" (traditionally a human) has no liability when the vehicle is in self driving mode, because in this situation they are not actually driving the car.

            To all intents and purposes the manufacturer is driving the car because 100% of the car's actions are down to whatever they have built.

            1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

              Re: Definitions and consequences

              It's not self driving though.

              You set the destination and you turn it on. Car is not autonomous.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Definitions and consequences

                The story, and this thread, refers to level 4 self-driving. No one mentioned "autonomous" except you and by your way of using it, you mean it in it's most strict definition such as the car staring up of it's own accord and choosing it's own destination. So no, the "passenger" is not responsible for the cars actions while in level 4 self-driving mode, even if the "passenger" did press the start button and enter the destination into it.

              2. katrinab Silver badge
                Meh

                Re: Definitions and consequences

                If I tell a taxi driver where I want to go, am I responsible for the way they drive to that destination?

                1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

                  Re: Definitions and consequences

                  Big difference. A human given todays limitaations of cars and software is always the responsible party.

                  A taxi driver is a person, a car cleary does not have the capab ility to drive safely.

                  1. ChrisC Silver badge

                    Re: Definitions and consequences

                    The point being made here is to counter the earlier suggestion that the *manufacturer* of a self-driving vehicle shouldn't be liable for anything the vehicle does whilst running in self-driving mode, because the *owner* of the vehicle would have had to initiate that mode by telling the vehicle where to go.

                    Replace "self driving vehicle" with "taxi", and replace "manufacturer" with "taxi driver", and then ask yourself if YOU as a taxi *passenger* ought to be liable for any errors the taxi *driver* makes whilst getting you to the destination you gave them.

                    If you think that would be wholly unreasonable, even though the only reason the driver is making the journey is because you told them to make it, then it should be just as unreasonable to place liability on the owner of a self-driving vehicle if something were to go wrong during a journey once the vehicle has been told to make it...

              3. ChrisC Silver badge

                Re: Definitions and consequences

                My microwave oven isn't autonomous either, but if the manufacturer has f'ed up the design such that there's a risk of it spewing RF across the neighbourhood just because I've asked it to warm up last nights leftovers, then would you consider it reasonable that I should be held liable for something entirely outside of my control?

                I mean, sure, the RF spew wouldn't have occurred had I not turned on the microwave, but given that using a microwave is an entirely reasonable thing to expect the owner of such a device to want to do from time to time, and provided that said spew occurred due to a design error and not due to some negligence or deliberate acts (e.g. defeating the safety interlocks) on my part, then it'd be entirely UNreasonable to deem me the guilty party here.

                So why shouldn't the same rules apply to self-driving vehicles? If a manufacturer sells you a vehicle claimed to be fully self-driving, then it wouldn't be unreasonable for the owner to want to, you know, actually use that feature for which they've presumably paid a handsome premium over an equivalent DIY (drive it yourself) vehicle. And if said vehicle then runs amok whilst in self-driving mode, DESPITE the owner not having done, or omitted to do (e.g. not kept up to date on servicing etc.), anything to provoke said misbehaviour, then the same unreasonableness re guilt/liability must surely apply here as well.

        2. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

          Re: Definitions and consequences

          Nonsense.

          If the only passenger (driver) switched the car to self-driving mode, then its their fault. They had the choice and they removed themselves from driving the car.

          Another major part of the problem is Musk being allowed to sell cars with false claims, that AUtopilot has not yet earned.

          There needs to be a process that controls when and how car software is released. Since Tesla can release a new version anytime they want, there needs to a certification process that verifies that stuff doesnt get broken between releases. We all know how supposed minor software changes can kill hundreds with the MAX crashes, again no control over the release process means BIG changes can happen even though vendors LIE and pretend its all minor.

      2. Filippo Silver badge

        Re: Definitions and consequences

        From the article:

        >the act does have a few tricks up its sleeve, notably making it clear that liability for a vehicle will not lie with the driver when it is in self-driving mode.

        Emphasis mine. Not entirely clear, but it sounds like the maker does get responsibility.

        1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Re: Definitions and consequences

          Ok I lost. Thanks

      3. Binraider Silver badge

        Re: Definitions and consequences

        If that were the case, then the car can never be turned over to being fully autonomous in the sense of level 4; and the mass of effort into producing such things can be thrown in the bin. Not saying that isn't the correct outcome!

        We're entering unwritten/untested law; and such is the way the law is developed, no precedent means the outcomes are unknown; insurance premiums no doubt high.

        Cars are shit solution to urbanisation and suburbia. If half the effort burned on self driving nonsense had instead been invested in safe, proven and effective infrastructure along with better designed housing and places of work (I say better designed - ACTUALLY designed as opposed to the nonsense free for all) perhaps we wouldn't have all the problems that stem from cars being the only practical option while simultaneously being shit.

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Definitions and consequences

      Insurance companies already have deep pockets.

      But here there will absolutely be a pretty good record of any incident - and that means that all the vehicles on the road can learn from the same mistake, which is far better than the nut behind most wheels.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Definitions and consequences

        "Insurance companies already have deep pockets."

        ..... often combined with short arms....

      2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        Re: Definitions and consequences

        Insurance companies already have deep pockets.

        Perhaps less so once owners only need fire and theft protection, are no longer responsible for any driving incidents.

        1. David Hicklin Bronze badge

          Re: Definitions and consequences

          > Perhaps less so once owners only need fire and theft protection

          Fire I can understand with all those batteries.....

          But theft? Object from the car maybe but surly the car will go " sorry, I can't do that Dave ??"

        2. ChrisC Silver badge

          Re: Definitions and consequences

          That would depend on whether or not self driving cars are *only* self driving, or if they still provide the option of being driven manually - if there's still *any* chance that you could be held liable for damages caused whilst using the vehicle, then there'd still be a market for more fully featured insurance policies.

          Besides, even if the manufacturers did end up shouldering 100% of the insurance burden for collisions, the insurers would simply up their premiums for these fire & theft policies due to the higher repair/replacement costs that always go hand in hand with adding extra tech to a vehicle...

  2. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Stop

    If a driverless car needs a driver

    The what, pray tell, is the point ?

    Presumably said driver has to be alert to step in at a seconds notice ? (so subject to driving hours regulations ?)

    I'm starting to believe the UK government hasn't really got a clue and are hoping no one notices.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: If a driverless car needs a driver

      What's the point of a car if it needs a person with a red flag?

      Maybe this isn't the end of the process, but the start.

    2. TheMaskedMan Silver badge

      Re: If a driverless car needs a driver

      "I'm starting to believe the UK government hasn't really got a clue and are hoping no one notices."

      And this is news to you?? The UK government hasn't had a clue about anything - other than self preservation, and that only weakly - in the whole of my 50+ years, and I see no reason to assume that they were any better before that.

      I take your point, but this driverless malarkey is a relatively new thing, and it makes sense to have it supervised in the early stages. It will only get better with time, though whether it will get good enough remains to be seen.

      1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Re: If a driverless car needs a driver

        After WW2 the british government has lost their way in just about everything.

    3. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: If a driverless car needs a driver ... what is the point?

      The Govt loves AI because it's great ... and the self-driving marketing droid did say "AI" at some point ...

      1. Dwarf

        Re: If a driverless car needs a driver ... what is the point?

        Real intelligence beats artificial intelligence as we've had millions of years to evolve to where we are now.

        Anyone else notice that people always assume that AI is more intelligent than the average person, but it could equally be lower than the lowest intelligence person on the planet.

        It is after all, just one very complicated stack of if statements and we can safely assume that it won't cope with all the edge cases that it will encounter on our road network.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: If a driverless car needs a driver ... what is the point?

          "we can safely assume that it won't cope with all the edge cases that it will encounter on our road network."

          We can also safely assume that of most people, evidenced by the tens of thousands of KSIs every year.

          1. Shalghar Bronze badge

            Re: If a driverless car needs a driver ... what is the point?

            "We can also safely assume that of most people, evidenced by the tens of thousands of KSIs every year."

            I am afraid (for the future victims) that we can only compare the results of who and what does better at the wheel when we have around 50% "self" driving cars competing against the other 50% individually driven cars.

            So far, it does not look good for the automated cars, much less so as even basic security issues like redundant sensors/emergency sensor arrays, safe breaking and shutdown at/from higher speeds and watchdog hardware are neither adressed, thought of, or implemented yet.

            The laws must not only ensure full responsibility for the manufacturer but also make sure that theres no pennyless shell company in between the future victims claims and the pockets of the manufacturing company and much more the pockets of their upper management.

            If there is no direct hit in the cesspool of those who decide against safety, it will end up like boeings series of security blunders.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: If a driverless car needs a driver ... what is the point?

              "So far, it does not look good for the automated cars"

              a) I disagree

              b) You're again assuming that current tech is the limit.

              1. Shalghar Bronze badge

                Re: If a driverless car needs a driver ... what is the point?

                As for a), thats fine by me and, for the record, i did not downvote.

                Your b) however, is itself an asumption but maybe i was not clear enough.

                No matter how StarTrekky utopiadeveloped anything in the future may be, i referred not only to the current hardware but to the general refusal to make these things more secure. Since we have sadly plenty of information what will happen when its down to cost/profit OR safety first, my assumption based on experience is that the manufacturers will battle any costly safety measures until the last drop of blood in their lawyers and lobbyists. Then they will hire new lawyers and lobbyists.

                As mentioned, redundant sensors, emergency sensors popping out whenever the input of the original sensors is questionable/unclear, hardware watchdogs (software independant overrides like ABS and similar safety systems, for example a steering wheel to speed comparision to evade the possibility of maximum steering angle at full speed=boinkyrollrollaaauuuugh (See mercedes A-Klasse plus "Elchtest")).

                The current kill ratio for full auto driving is abysmal, be it ploughing into a lane divider or running over someone pushing the bike across the road. The "Help me im stuck" experiment in the US, where the fleet of full auto vehicles clogged the city is also not impressive. While this may (and quite probably will) improve in the future, there still is no concept at all for sanitizing input, redundant sensors or emergency sensors popping out of a protective compartment to take over and control an emergency speed reduce maneuver, when the input from the main sensors is unclear, compromised or otherwise dangerous.

                We saw both in the frozen airspeed sensor crash as well as in boeings MAX desaster what can happen if your oh-so-clever cheap control systems rely on ONE sensor/input source.

                1. John Robson Silver badge

                  Re: If a driverless car needs a driver ... what is the point?

                  "The current kill ratio for full auto driving is abysmal,"

                  You got stats to back that up?

                  https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/state-by-state#:~:text=Posted%20May%202023.-,Fatal%20crash%20totals,per%20100%20million%20miles%20traveled.

                  "1.37 deaths per 100 million miles traveled"

                  Tesla deaths records 44 deaths with AP enabled... that would be about 3 billion miles, a distance surpassed in 2020 (one two years after the first billion) - four years of driving since then, so I imagine the total miles driven is rather higher.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If a driverless car needs a driver ... the driver needs a beer.

        Driverless has a big advantage, it's almost as good as AI - so I'll no longer be a Drinker with a Driving problem!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If a driverless car needs a driver

      The article clearly says that the driver being required to take over is the CURRENT situation with the TESTING that's going on.

      In 2 years time, it said they expect to remove that restriction.

      Anyway, the government knows exactly what they are doing... It will be chaos, but it will happen on Labours watch.

      Just like how Khan gets blamed for Tory ULEZ

      1. ChrisC Silver badge

        Re: If a driverless car needs a driver

        Would you blame Labour for the currently shocking state of the NHS just because it came into existence on their watch, or would you correctly lay the blame at the feet of those in power during its decline into something barely fit for purpose?

        Khan quite rightly gets blamed for the way he took Johnson's original ULEZ idea and turned it into something it was never intended to be - if you pay attention to the criticism he gets re ULEZ, you'll note that pretty much all of it started at the time the outer London expansion was first proposed, and pretty much all of it relates to that particular aspect of the overall scheme. So given that the outer London expansion is entirely his doing despite what some try to claim based on misinterpretations of government letters, his 2021 manifesto etc., why shouldn't he get the blame for it?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: If a driverless car needs a driver

          You're quite right. I just read up on it, and I agree with you.

          I admit, I didn't know much about it, and was trolling.. Just looking at how wide an area it covers, it's crazy. They should do more to increase public transport etc. not penalise motorists who already pay more in tax due to their fuel bills.

          Sorry.

          1. ChrisC Silver badge

            Re: If a driverless car needs a driver

            No worries, at least you took the time to do some more research once prompted - plenty of people are so certain the outer London expansion is a perfectly decent idea bringing nothing but benefits to us all, and simply refuse to even consider the downsides to those of us who actually live in the areas affected by it.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: If a driverless car needs a driver

              Yeah, I used to live so far out of London, we weren't even on the tube, but I found out (prompted by your reply) that even where I lived is now covered.

              I had previously been led to believe it was still an inner city scheme, but just expended a little bit, I don't think it's fair to cover residential areas at all.

              Cheers

    5. tfewster
      Devil

      Re: If a driverless car needs a driver ... what is the point?

      The point is that the "driver" is not driving all the time - e.g. on a motorway, they could go to sleep and take over when the car/truck exits the motorway. A good and easy use case for automation.

      If the car is rated for self-driving in an urban environment, you could read a book. If the car can't handle a situation it encounters, it STOPS and THEN the driver takes over after assessing the situation. No "Computer gives up, you handle this emergency situation".

      1. Fred Dibnah

        Re: If a driverless car needs a driver ... what is the point?

        I’m not great at handling an emergency immediately on waking. By the time my brain was in gear, it would be too late. YMMV.

        Perhaps the robo-cars could be fitted with coffee machines to dispense espresso at the appropriate time.

      2. Edward Ashford

        Re: If a driverless car needs a driver ... what is the point?

        I am so looking forward to the traffic reports. "There's a log tailback on the Hanger Lane gyratory system where a self driving car is having a sulk"

        1. Fred Dibnah

          Re: If a driverless car needs a driver ... what is the point?

          Whereas today’s reports just say "There's a long tailback on the Hanger Lane gyratory system”.

          Plus ça change.

        2. ChrisC Silver badge

          Re: If a driverless car needs a driver ... what is the point?

          So long as they make sure to route any parts of the circuitry requiring diodes along the right hand side of the vehicle chassis, it'll all be just fine...

      3. nijam Silver badge

        Re: If a driverless car needs a driver ... what is the point?

        > "Computer gives up, you handle this emergency situation".

        ... including the pileup caused when the "AI" did some thing completely wrong/unreasonable.

    6. David Hicklin Bronze badge

      Re: If a driverless car needs a driver

      >> The what, pray tell, is the point ?

      This is about level 4 where the driver is Optional

      Anything above this still need a driver, so levels 4 and 5 are the only really useful ones, and it will be a long time before we reach that

  3. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Waiting lists

    Well, that will for sure reduce the NHS waiting lists when more people will die on the roads.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Waiting lists

      Why will more people die? At the moment the UK has amongst the safest roads in the world and we still see 1,700 people killed, and I'll assert the overwhelming majority of those are down to either recklessness, carelessness, or incompetence on the part of a road user.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Waiting lists

        Isn't the UK the place that recently allowed cyclists to be two or three abreast on the road (and not single file)? Mix that with "here's a self driving car" and...

        ...okay, I know this pitiful excuse of a government has little in the way of green credentials, but to think of ways to actively kill cyclists, it's a bit beyond the pale...

        1. Ali Dodd

          Re: Waiting lists

          cyclists being two abreast if there is two of them means an overtake needs LESS road than if they were in single file and is safer than forcing them into the gutter - it's always been 'allowed' and now it advised. Roads are not just for cars..

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Waiting lists

            How do you decide which one of you goes on the outside though?!

            1. Shalghar Bronze badge

              Re: Waiting lists

              "How do you decide which one of you goes on the outside though?!"

              Truth or dare ? ;)

              In my life its depending on the situation. When i ride to or from work and meet one of the few bike riding colleagues on the road, the one who can brake and accelerate faster is on the outside due to better reaction time while the inside guy keeps a steady speed to be predictable. The Guy with his electrobike usually takes the outer place while i am on the outside when riding with the guy who is not able to pedal as fast as me. When speeds match it depends on weather and lighting system. Battery powered light bike will be outside, dynamo powered (and thus prone to friction and power loss in heavy rain and/or snow) gets on the inside.

          2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Re: Waiting lists

            You may also note that the changes to the Highway Code now tell you to leave 2 metres space around cyclists when overtaking.

            On many roads around here (including some graded as 'A' roads), this means either being completely on the other side of the road if cyclists are 2 abreast, or not being able to pass at all.

            1. Fred Dibnah

              Re: Waiting lists

              Why is overtaking on the other side of the road a problem for you? You do it when you overtake cars - I hope.

              1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

                Re: Waiting lists

                There's a difference here. Generally, cars will be travelling at more like the speed that I want to go (thus I won't need to overtake as frequently), rather than the speed of the slowest cyclist in the group. I wonder how much time you spend on roads like the A38, A39, A358 or A396 in Somerset. It can be really frustrating travelling on the hilly sections of these 'A' roads at 10 miles an hour or less for extended periods. And sometimes, quite a queue can build up behind these cyclists. In theory, they are supposed to move aside at convenient points and allow traffic to pass if there is too long a queue, but very few do.

                Thus, you tend to need to pass cyclists more frequently than cars, and this can be problematic if cyclists ride two abreast on these types of road, and if the near side cyclist is keeping away from the edge of the road to avoid holes or drains, you have to cross completely to the other side and you will end up driving on the reverse camber, and will also be in less of a position to spot traffic coming in the other direction.

                I tend to play on the safe side, and leave as much space as I can when I do pass, or just not overtake, but not every driver takes the same attitude. I've been sat behind some cyclists climbing a hill on a twisting road and had the driver behind me decide he's too impatient to wait for a safe place to pass, and had roared past me, not even seeing the cyclists in front of me. They put their own safety, as well as that of the cyclists and myself in jeopardy.

                And I remember one case when I was travelling downhill, and came around a bend to find a group of cyclists completely filling the road coming up the other direction. I was travelling slowly enough to stop (but I had to brake hard), but the cyclists still seemed to be angry enough at me (demonstrated by them slapping the side of the car as they came past!) for wanting to just use the road that the road tax and fuel duty (that cyclists don't pay) provide.

                Please don't think that I don't like cyclists. I respect their right to use the roads as much as any other road user (and doubly so for horse riders), but cyclists also have to remember that there are other road users besides themselves, and be prepared to make accommodation such as riding line-ahead on the narrower roads. I know that they are more vulnerable than me with close on a tonne of metal around me, but that does not give them the right to be reckless and blame all problems on car drivers.

        2. Fred Dibnah

          Re: Waiting lists

          Well done for bringing cyclists into a discussion about motor vehicles. It always happens, like some kind of transport-based Godwin’s Law.

          Anyway. I would much rather cycle in front of a neutral robo-car that is programmed not to hit things, than an aggressive impatient driver who is desperate to get past me no matter what.

  4. Pink Duck

    Smoke and mirrors

    The reality is that the UK still abides by the World Forum UNECE Automotive Regulation per Working Group 29 GRVA, which as of now requires every self-driving action to be driver initiated.

    While they are aiming to refine the wording by June, the whole Automated Vehicles Bill is just additional restriction upon self-drive systems conforming to the above.

    The real delay is the 6 month timeframe for transport secretary to appoint the approvals body and for it to then begin its work of assessing candidate systems, once submitted. These systems need to be fully autonomous capable. To date, none are.

  5. codejunky Silver badge

    Good

    Sounds promising. Lets see how it goes

  6. ravenviz Silver badge

    “Companies will have ongoing obligations to keep their vehicles safe and ensure that they continue to drive in accordance with British laws”

    Pity many actual drivers don’t seem to!

    1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

      Ineffective Legal Responsibilities

      "Hey, Boss, that randomly-occurring bug the dev team warned you about? Turns out it's not so random -- and Legal says there's an incoming lawsuit and separate government action incoming about it."

      "No problem. We'll just 'go out of business', sell all our assets cheaply to another corporation we'll set up, and continue as before, under a new name."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ineffective Legal Responsibilities

        Good idea, Mr. Trump.

    2. codejunky Silver badge

      @ravenviz

      "Pity many actual drivers don’t seem to!"

      Next trick would be getting automated bicycles ready for the road. Even with occasional AI screw ups they would probably be safer

      1. Zack Mollusc

        Re: @ravenviz

        Easier, too. No need for sensors to detect other road users, traffic lights or one-way systems, no need for precision gps to keep to the correct side of the road and off the pavement/grass etc. No requirement for lights or indicators.

        Just make sure that it is painted black and the person on it is wearing dark clothes at night.

        1. ChrisElvidge Bronze badge

          Re: Just make sure that it is painted black and the person on it is wearing dark clothes at night

          At least they won't get run over by a snow plough.

    3. /\/\j17

      Naa, this is the UK mate, init. We'll just ignore the bug for years and prosecute 900 mechanics because "There are no bugs so they must have broken it"...

      That or uptake of self driving cars will turn out to be really low - when people see it costs the same to buy as a normal car...but you can only insure it using the manufacturers insurance company (because nobody else is willing to take the risk), can only get it serviced by the manufacturer (because that's a term of their insurance policy), and either half the contract's made up of the exemptions where you accept full liability (literally anything from letting the sensors get dirty upwards) or the computer sees __anything__ it doesn't like (like the muck from 10 minutes of motorway driving in 'just stopped raining' conditions on a single sensor) it brings itself to a stop and becomes a driver driven car again (fun in the outside lane!).

  7. alain williams Silver badge

    Does this mean ...

    that I will be able to get tanked up on a Friday evening and take the car home ?

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Does this mean ...

      It would be "drunk in charge of a vehicle" rather than "drunk driving". A lesser offence, but still illegal.

      1. Plest Silver badge

        Re: Does this mean ...

        I thought one of the main bullshit PR reasons for self-dirving cars is precisely the safety aspect, women on a night out alone or pissed up drunks, they'll all be able to be get home safely.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does this mean ...

      As long as you don't get carred up on a Friday and take the tank home.

  8. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Self-driving vehicles could be on British roads by 2026

    I'd observe that the chosen date lies conveniently on the other side of a general election, and that this announcement should therefore be treated with as much credibility as an announcement that everybody is to given a free unicorn that shits gold in 2026 too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Self-driving vehicles could be on British roads by 2026

      It looks like it could sit on the other side of a general election if it came into law in August this year.... just waiting for confirmation of that on the evening news today....

  9. Oh Matron!

    Felt that this was timely

    A tesla driving into a train on a level crossing: https://futurism.com/the-byte/footage-self-driving-tesla-train

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Felt that this was timely

      Here's a human driver showing the Teslas how it should be done:

      https://youtu.be/KFiXReaYEj8

  10. tiggity Silver badge

    UK self driving car

    First thing it needs is a decent pothole detection system (though there are roads near me that are more pothole than road, no route through some sections without hitting at least 1 pothole - got to book in for 2nd replacement tyre this year & it's only May FFS)

    Good luck with any self driving system coping with country roads, they will probably need a whole module for horses and the interpretation of gestures by the riders, and as for communication for who is reversing into a passing place on single track roads that is typically done by hand or head gestures & lights flashing between people, I'm certainly looking forward to that solution!

    But hey, they can barrel up & down an old straight ex rail tunnel, hurrah!

    1. tfewster

      Re: UK self driving car

      As I mentioned above - If the car can't handle an unusual situation it encounters, it STOPS and THEN the driver takes over after assessing the situation.

      A horse rider might wave you past because they can see over the hedges that the road ahead is clear - or a hand gesture might be "I'm turning right" or "Back off, you're scaring my horse".

      1. Sub 20 Pilot

        Re: UK self driving car

        To which my response would be to fuck right off.

        My car is road legal, I drive within the law, I am very careful around cyclists and horses as a matter of courtesy but any horse rider telling me what do do will be told to get off your unstable animal and take it off the road, where it is obviously the source of danger, not other road users.

        I have seen too many entitled fuckers on horseback who think they own the fucking roads. Ride off road and on bridleways unless you have full control.

        I can be prosecuted for not being fully in control of my vehicle so why should it be different to someone in charge of half a ton of muscle and a miniscule brain.

        A lot of these are no doubt the entitled wankers insisting on the right to have an uncontrollable killer dog on a bit of string and it being everyone elses' problem to not get attacked by it.

        1. Plest Silver badge

          Re: UK self driving car

          Highway Code sections 214-218, while it appears to be presented as "advice" I'm guessing you wouldn't want to be in court testing the enforcement if someone or their animal got killed 'cos you raced past yelling abuse at the rider.

        2. David Hicklin Bronze badge

          Re: UK self driving car

          >> To which my response would be to fuck right off.

          Clearly you have never experienced the view from the saddle when riding on a road

          Most drivers are extremely considerate and pass slowly giving you a wide berth which we riders appreciate a lot, in return we also do consider drivers being fellow drivers ourself. You must remember that a horse has a brain of its own and often overrides the rider's wishes!

          So yes, I will often pull over to let traffic pass or wave it through if the road ahead is clear, we can see a long way over hedges from up there.

          Now self driving cars which this article is about will have a fun time coping with that, and level 5 will have no driver interaction at all

      2. Jim Whitaker

        Re: UK self driving car

        No, that's not level 4.

  11. b1k3rdude

    So basically a sh*t show waiting to happen...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So

    Time to avoid UK roads.

    Thanks for the warning.

  13. Dinanziame Silver badge
    Pint

    Driving on the left side of the road

    I'm mildly curious of what issues will come from using in UK systems that have been built for the right side of the road. One would think that "you just need to flip everything and it's all the same", but I'm pretty sure that the engineers are going to have surprises, and at some point somebody will facepalm and say "oh yeah wrong side". In how many places does the code need to be adapted? How do you make sure you catch all these places?

    Of course, in theory you would start the code on the very first day by defining the boolean variable driving_on_right_side and use it everywhere, but it's almost certain nobody thought of it at the time, and even after they did, programmers would still often automatically assume the side of the road without thinking about it.

    1. Plest Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Driving on the left side of the road

      In a word "roundabout", we Brits love our roundabouts. Let's see how these self-driving cars cope with Hemel's famous Magic Roundabout or driving through any number of 1960s "new towns" with their roundabouts every 100 yards!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Driving on the left side of the road

      That variable is unclear "driving_on_right_side = true" means driving on the left because the UK is always correct and driving on the right is just wrong.

  14. Jim Whitaker

    The article above says: ". . . the act does have a few tricks up its sleeve, notably making it clear that liability for a vehicle will not lie with the driver when it is in self-driving mode.

    The UK's Department for Transport said: "Companies will have ongoing obligations to keep their vehicles safe and ensure that they continue to drive in accordance with British laws."

    So no liability for occupier, "driver" or owner.

  15. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

    Waiting for news item where theres a busy road with a quarter or half of cars in self driving mode and they all get triggered by something and they all go crazy and crash each other.

  16. MrReynolds2U
    FAIL

    The liability clause is excellent forethought.

    But does it cover this:

    Self-Driving Car: "Ooh that looks bad! You're about to hit someone in 1 second, Dave. Relinquishing controls. You have the con."

    Dave: "Me? But, you were driving?"

    Self-Driving Car: "Not at the point of impact. Oh, and that means their death was your responsibility ;)"

    1. David Hicklin Bronze badge

      Re: The liability clause is excellent forethought.

      >>> But does it cover this:

      That's level 3 and below

      Level 4 & 5 don't have that option....so what could go wrong !

      1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Re: The liability clause is excellent forethought.

        All these levels dont mean anything simply because there is no certification.

        Its far too easy for any vendor to push another release that could have a serious flaw.

        THere needs to be a certification process that guarantees a certain level of compliance and quality and not a wild west where they can just push any change and nobody knows what really is in it in terms of real quality not just few liners in the release notes.

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