The Law Commission of England and Wales has suggested further changes to the legislation concerning remote driving technology, in response to safety and security concerns.
Remote driving allows driverless vehicles to be controlled by an individual working remotely. The vehicle is ‘driven’ by the person in the remote location, and does not require an in-car operative. The technology has been in development for several years, but is already being applied in real-world environments like warehouses and farms.
In its published advice to the government, the Law Commission has recommended changes to legislation, and expressed its concern on a number of issues. These include establishing reliable connectivity between the remote location and the vehicle, driver situational awareness and the cybersecurity risks.
“Remote driving is an exciting technology, but before we see remotely operated cars on UK roads, we must address safety concerns through strong regulation”, said Nicholas Paines KC, Public Law Commissioner. “Our advice concludes that in the immediate term, the Government would be able to address some gaps in the law around remote driving using existing powers, while also providing a path for companies to use the technology lawfully provided that their systems are safe. In the longer term, it could set up a full system of remote driving regulation.”
“Regulations must respond to other fundamental concerns around security threats and liability in the event of an accident. Our advice paper sets out a roadmap for how the Government can address these problems, whilst also encouraging companies to innovate.”
The Law Commission’s paper focuses on the type of remote driving in which the remote operator has no direct line of sight with the vehicle. Remote driving technology could have applications in areas such as the delivery of rental vehicles, or in trials of self-driving cars, but there are significant challenges to be addressed before driverless vehicles on public roads in the UK become legal.