Queen’s speech legalizes autonomous cars in U.K.

Autonomous car manufacturers might start to look at the United Kingdom as a viable alternative to Europe or the U.S., thanks to proposed new reforms on insurance legislation that now covering autonomous cars.

Announced in the Queen’s Speech to Parliament earlier today, the reforms allow autonomous cars to be tested and purchased in the U.K. When passed by Parliament, it will be the first legislation of its kind to cover an entire country.

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We don’t think this means fully autonomous cars are purchasable, but autonomous features will be allowed inside U.K. cars. This means things like Tesla’s Model S autonomous lane switching or Ford’s self-parking should be available in the next few years.

Nissan, a major automotive supplier in the U.K., plans to add autonomous features to its Qashqai cars in 2017.

Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover are testing autonomous cars in the U.K. already, in project cities like London and Milton Keynes, and will now be able to test the cars across the country. Volvo has also chosen the U.K. as its headquarters for autonomous car development.

U.K. to be a self-driving hotspot?

We suspect other European-based automotive companies may look at the U.K., which is less restrictive than other European countries on autonomous cars. Take France, for example, only one automotive company is allowed to test cars in the country, the PSA Group.

Germany is another country behind the times with autonomous cars, but Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she’ll address the situation. Italy and Spain have also only had tests in the country; no meaningful legislation to legalize autonomous cars has been implemented in the countries.

It is not just autonomous cars where the U.K. is racing ahead, the country has been praised for its relaxed drone laws. The British government has invested millions into IoT and big data developments, in an effort to make the U.K. (and more specifically London) a tech center equivalent to Silicon Valley.

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