UK citizens using self-driving cars will be allowed to watch TV on built-in screens in line with proposed updates to the Highway Code. This could pave the way for Tesla to begin testing FSD Beta in Europe.
A proposed update to the Highway Code includes the ability for drivers to view TV in self-driving cars that are moving. At the same time, they must be ready to take back control of their vehicles when asked to do so, the government said. The first permit is likely to limit the speed of vehicles. For example, such testing may initially occur in traffic jams.
The planned changes to the Code are expected to take effect over the summer. The updates were described as an interim measure to support the early adoption of the technology, with a full regulatory framework planned for 2025. The rules will establish that self-driving car users will not be held responsible for accidents. Instead, insurance companies, not individuals, will be liable for claims in many cases, the Department for Transport (DfT) said.
Last April, the government announced that it would allow hands-free driving in vehicles with lane-keeping technology on busy highways. For example, Automated Lane Keeping Assist technology allows the vehicle to move in one lane at speeds up to 37 mph (60 km/h) while retaining the ability to return control to the driver when needed.
Under the new guidance, drivers must be ready to take control when prompted, such as when approaching a highway exit. The technology currently available is “assistive,” meaning drivers must always remain in control, the DfT said in a statement.
Eventually, self-driving technology could “improve road safety across Britain by reducing human error, which is a contributory factor in 88% of all recorded road collisions,” the government said.
Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said driverless cars “promise a future where death and injury on our roads are cut significantly.”
Self-driving cars are currently not allowed on UK roads, although Tesla is already offering functionality to make cars self-driving, albeit with close supervision by the driver. The company has developed and is testing the FSD Beta feature in the US and Canada, and intends to expand into Europe later this year. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has mentioned that the manufacturer hopes to get regulatory approval this summer. UK policy indicates that the country is ready to gradually introduce self-driving cars on its roads, which could be a good prerequisite for testing FSD Beta there.
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