Key takeaways from the techUK and Self-Driving Vehicles APPG Parliamentary Reception

The reception, hosted by Lord Borwick, focussed on how to operationalise the Automated Vehicles Bill (AV Bill), and realise its full potential, now that it is expected to receive Royal Assent and become law later this year.

Despite the swift movement through Parliament of this landmark legislation - aimed at establishing a legal framework for the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles - the UK remains at the beginning of its regulatory journey. In the opening keynote, Lord Davies (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport) emphasised both the ambition and commitment of the UK to become the ‘home’ of this exciting £42 billion industry, but stressed that hard work starts now in to create an environment that offers certainty for industry and confidence for the public.

Attended by a wide spectrum of stakeholders, the main event of the day was a panel session, hosted by Sue Daley (Director of Tech & Innovation at techUK), focussing on the implications of, and opportunities presented by, the AV Bill: 

1. Benefits and use cases

Covering the key question of “why it matters”, the panel kicked off with a deep dive into the benefits that autonomous vehicles could provide, including:

  • Enhancing road safety for all users and reducing accidents - the AV Bill aims for AVs to be held to a higher standard than the average human driver.
  • Improving rural mobility.
  • Providing accessibility to communities who may have previously been excluded from certain mobility services - with a particular focus on the social benefit generated by Automated Passenger Services.
  • Increasing cross-sector collaborative opportunities between original equipment manufacturers and technology companies, in turn facilitating innovation and creating jobs.
  • Reducing congestion (particularly in city centers) and, consequently, emissions.
  • Providing better and more efficient use of existing transport infrastructure.

By way of an example, Waymo has been operating the world’s first premium driverless transportation service in California and the consensus on the panel was that this could lay the foundations for some ground-breaking use cases such as (amongst many others) ‘last mile’ transport solutions (i.e. using the example of an existing, underutilised North-South urban railway line, automated vehicles could provide the vital East-West connections for commuters who may have otherwise driven the entire journey).

2. Secondary legislation

Whilst the primary legislation continues to progress through the Parliamentary process, providing a strong starting point upon which to build a full regulatory system, it was acknowledged that this system will need to evolve alongside the rapidly changing technological landscape it is intended to regulate. As such, detailed technical specifications will need to be defined through secondary legislation.

The importance of regulatory certainty was cited by the panel as a crucial precursor for research and development, infrastructure development, testing and investment. In order to realise the aforementioned benefits, the panel stressed the vital importance that secondary legislation (together with the statutory instruments necessary to implement it) will play on the UK’s journey to full deployment of autonomous vehicles and the economic growth that is likely to accompany it.

Whilst work on secondary legislation is anticipated to commence this Spring, with a full timeline to follow, it is not known whether the imminent General Electronic will have any impact upon this, although the hope of the panel was that it would not.   

3. Engagement of consumers and the building of confidence / trust

Finally, the panel then engaged with the idea of consumer confidence and the pivotal role it will play in the UK’s deployment of autonomous vehicles. The panel acknowledged the measures that have already been incorporated into the AV Bill to encourage consumer confidence, namely:

  • Accountability - liability is shifted from the human driver to the company behind the AV technology, seeking to protect the consumer and ensure industry accountability.
  • Enforcement - government is empowered to investigate incidents involving AVs, seeking to enhance public trust in regulation and encourage collaboration between industry and government.
  • Marketing - the provision of misleading marketing / information is expressly prohibited, seeking to safeguard consumers .

However, ongoing collaboration was seen as the key to achieving this objective, creating focus groups, providing updates and targeted messaging on the benefits of AVs and, where possible, creating testing environments where they can be experienced.


The reception was a celebration of the AV Bill, seeking to address the significant implications and opportunities ushered in by this landmark legislation. Whilst the keynote emphasised the importance of maintaining momentum as it continues its passage through Parliament, the panel session took a forensic look into why it matters and, ultimately, the next steps required to achieve the UK’s ambitions as an early mover and thought leader on its exciting journey towards realising the benefits of autonomous transportation.


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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