England: Gowling WLG Report Calls for Government to Adopt Social Policy Approach to Drive CAV Development

Gowling WLG's latest report, discussing the need for UK policy to change to maximise the social benefits of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs), calls for national and local government to balance a social policy approach, with their technology focus, to encourage positive the social impacts from transport automation.

'CAVs - Driving Social Change', the latest white paper from international law firm Gowling WLG, explores the potential social impacts of automation and how changes to social policy need to be made to ensure the benefits of new technologies emerge and are understood by the greatest population.

In a wake-up call for policy makers and vehicle manufacturers, the report recommends that manufacturing and technology must take a back seat to, or at least sit alongside, regulation when it comes to setting the social norms.

Exploring the challenges and opportunities to making CAVs a reality on our roads at a critical moment in the development of the automotive industry and personal mobility, 'Driving Social Change' stresses the importance of control to ensure CAV development is positive for future society, focussed on broader economic and social outcomes, rather than solely on the capabilities of the technology or the outcome of a Darwinian commercial race.

Stuart Young, Head of Automotive at Gowling WLG, said: "Recent technological developments, particularly the growth of artificial intelligence, mean there are mounting expectations that fully autonomous driving may not be that far away.

"But the technology cannot make the vision of an automated transport future happen on its own. We also need to look in-depth at our current laws, regulations and social need to make sure they are fit-for-purpose."

"Good regulation not only enables and accelerates the commercial development of CAVs, it also ensures that they develop in a way that's healthy for the whole of society. Getting ahead of the technology and thoughtfully guiding the way in which it develops is key to long-term success for everyone. In the same way that privacy should be designed into data systems, mobility access ought to be designed into the transport system and CAVs from the start."

Experts from sector-leaders internationally featured within the white paper also call for new regulation to ensure CAVs can deliver on their potential and encourage innovation, focused on outcomes. They suggest that whilst CAVs have the potential to be transformative in an urban context, vehicles must be positioned as solutions for transport situations supporting less mobile parts of the population.

This white paper is the sixth in a series that Gowling WLG is producing in conjunction with UK Autodrive. The series will cover many of the most interesting elements affecting the dynamic developments around autonomous and connected vehicles, including data protection, moral algorithms (ethical software coding), cyber security, social policies, and intellectual property.

UK Autodrive was the largest of three UK consortia launched to support the introduction of self-driving vehicles into the UK. UK Autodrive brought together leading technology and automotive businesses, forward-thinking local authorities and academic institutions to deliver a major three-year UK trial of autonomous and connected vehicle technologies. UK Autodrive was supported by Innovate UK, the UK's innovation agency.