COMMENT: Thatcham Research supports House of Commons Transport Committee report on self-driving vehicles
Tom Leggett, vehicle technology specialist at risk intelligence company Thatcham Research offers an expert view on the report’s findings:
“Thatcham Research welcomes the report’s pragmatism regarding the advent of self-driving vehicles and the complex requirements for their successful adoption.
“It encourages the government to embrace self-driving technology cautiously and gradually, ensuring that the focus is on safe implementation, legal clarity and public acceptance. This can only be achieved by a unified approach by vehicle manufacturers, government and insurers.
“While self-driving vehicles are expected to be safer than human drivers, there is a call for more stringent safety standards. Comparing self-driving cars to competent human drivers is considered insufficient. A more transparent and demanding threshold for safety is advocated and Thatcham Research would echo this assertion.
“The question of “how safe, is safe enough?” has long been a point of contention, and if the safety case is the primary benefit of self-driving vehicles, then this should be reflected in the government’s ambitions for the future of transport.
"The UK is well positioned to lead the world in this endeavour, but it will only be achievable with data transparency.”
The report also states that “A safety-led culture will require wide access to data, and this must be a higher priority than commercial confidentiality.”
Leggett continues: “It is of huge significance that the report prioritises data access for all stakeholders. Thatcham Research has long called for a centrally held data repository to enable a fully transparent understanding of collision cause and effect, something which will also be vital to building trust and smoothing the path to consumer adoption.
“Widespread data access is also crucial for safety and the resolution of complex legal liability arrangements shared between vehicle owners and operators.
“In addition, Thatcham Research welcomes the report’s acknowledgments relating to the complexities of legal liability – especially as we move through the stages of automation to fully self-driving vehicles. As the driver hands more and more control to the vehicle, absolute clarity is required regarding their legal responsibilities.
“The self-driving vehicle sector in the UK is regarded as a success story driven by various stakeholders’ energy, creativity, and expertise. However, we would also support the report’s call for the urgent introduction of comprehensive legislation to protect the UK’s reputation as a forerunner in the safe adoption of self-driving vehicles, with ongoing reviews and updates to keep pace with evolving technology.”