The Government has launched a 'major' nine-week consultation for driverless cars to be used on British roads. The Government hopes this will allow Britain to pave the way for the development of driverless technology.

The consultation invites all drivers to comment on two proposed changes:

  • Insurance for automated vehicles where the 'driver' is no longer controlling the vehicle
  • Amendments to the Highway Code and other regulations so that driverless functions are able to be used safely.

The Modern Transport Bill will be the mode by which changes to insurance will take place. Clearing up some of the ambiguity surrounding the subject, it has been highlighted that motor insurance will remain compulsory. Insurance will also be extended to product liability in respect of such vehicles, and the Government has stipulated that product liability insurance should include cover for passengers, third parties and the 'not at fault' automated vehicle driver.

Motorists will therefore have security in the knowledge that they will still be covered by insurance as insurers will continue to pay claims, potentially seeking indemnity from the manufacturer.

Although fully automated vehicles will not be on our roads until at least 2020, the Government predicts that advanced driver assistance functions will be publically available in Britain within two to four years. Such functions include remote control parking, motorway lane-changing and motorway assist.

The consultation runs hand in hand with the Government's financial commitments to the technology, having pledged a further £30m from the Intelligent Mobility Fund for research and development, via a competition to be launched next month.

The consultation ends on 9th September 2016.