Licenses for vehicles remotely driven from abroad ‘should not be granted’

The Law Commission has advised the government that remotely driven cars from abroad should not currently be permitted in the UK. 

An independent body to advise the government, the Law Commission created the report after a request by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and the International Vehicle Standard’s team to clarify ‘the current legal status of remote driving.’

a truck and cars on a street

The report said: ‘We have concluded that, in the short term, Vehicle Special Orders should not be granted for remote driving operations where the driver is based abroad. 

‘In the longer term, it should be a criminal offence to drive a vehicle on roads or in public places in England, Wales or (if the legislation applies there) Scotland remotely from elsewhere. To enforce the new offence effectively, police should be given powers to stop and seize vehicles which they reasonably believe are contravening this requirement.’ 

Though the technology for remote driving of a vehicle is already in operation in the UK, mainly within controlled environments such as warehouses and farms, the report focussed on activity which took place on public roads and beyond the line of sight of the ‘driver’. 

Analysis by the Law Commission also noted that there is currently no international consensus on the legality of remote driving and the UK’s position puts the practice in a ‘legal grey area’. 

It was recommended that a new statutory licensing scheme should be introduced for companies looking to deploy remote driving beyond the line of sight with two categories covering the use of the practice as an ‘add-on’ to self driving and use for ‘independent remote driving’. 

It was also noted that examples of the latter form of remote driving are already in use in the UK by two companies who are testing the technology with a safety driver but looking to go fully remote in the near future. 

The report is also made up of an analysis of the 41 responses to the body’s issue paper on the topic published in June 2022 

The use of autonomous and remotely driven vehicles has been a point of interest for the government in recent years with a series of grants handed out at the beginning of this year covering self-driving projects in the UK. Including the world’s first full-sized self-driving bus in Edinburgh and an autonomous shuttle in Northern Ireland. 

You can read the Law Commission’s full report here.

Photo by Anthony Fomin


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