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2019 Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index reveals UK's policy successes and areas for improvement

18 March 2019

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Author: Dr. Sarah Owen-Vandersluis – Partner, Head of Public Sector Mobility Strategy, KPMG UK LLP.
Co-Author: Malini Bose – Assistant Manager, Infrastructure and Government Strategic Advisory, KPMG UK LLP.

World over, the buzz around driverless cars is growing. As science fiction evolves into fact, the question on the minds of policymakers, industry leaders, journalists, and citizens is – will policy, innovation culture, infrastructure, and consumer willingness keep pace with the technology and allow timely introduction of autonomous vehicles?

In its second edition of the Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index (AVRI), KPMG evaluates the preparedness and openness of 25 countries towards AV technology. It assesses these countries on 25 different measures within four pillars: policy and legislation, technology and innovation, infrastructure, and consumer acceptance, with each pillar holding equal weight in calculating a country's overall score. In our second edition, Netherlands and Singapore retain their positions at the top of the table, the former doing especially well on infrastructure readiness, and the latter taking pole position in policy and consumer acceptance.

The United Kingdom comes in seventh, slipping two places from last year due to the inclusion of high-performing new entrants Norway and Finland in the index. However, this should not mask the fact that the UK still holds a strong position in respect of AV readiness with significant progress having been made in the past year.

In policy and legislation, the UK continues to be a world leader (2nd place) owing to a spate of supportive legislation and an increasingly coordinated national strategy. In August 2018, the UK Parliament passed the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act, which adapts the existing motor insurance framework by extending compulsory insurance to AVs as well as the driver1. Furthermore, in November, the government announced support for three public trials in 2021, including AV buses across the Forth Bridge in Scotland and self-driving taxis in London2. Additionally, in December 2018 the UK Parliament published an extensive report outlining their proactive approach to pursuing the benefits of MaaS3. Finally, just this month, the Department for Transport announced that it would introduce a system to allow the first tests on public roads of advanced autonomous vehicles without a steering wheel or human in control, a first for Europe4.

Cross-government collaboration – which is critical for eventual deployment – has been particularly effective in the UK. For instance, the Law Commissions of England and Wales and Scotland are currently reviewing the UK's legal framework for AVs, due to be completed in March 20215. Across the UK, there has been a concerted effort to develop CAV strategies, business plans and roadmaps, with recent initiatives spanning Scotland, the West Midlands and the Department for Transport (DfT).

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