Law Commission Consultation on Automated Vehicles
Consultation Question 1 (Paragraphs 3.24 - 3.43)
(1) All vehicles which "drive themselves" within the meaning of the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018 should have a user-in-charge in a position to operate the controls, unless the vehicle is specifically authorised as able to function safely without one?
Short Answer:1. No.
2. I recommend a diametrically opposed approach for the high and advanced levels of automation anticipated by the AEVA 2018: The imposition of a user in charge should be the exception and not the rule.
3. I suggest that the presence of a user-in-charge be largely confined to vehicles equipped with SAE L4 automation (where the ability to minimise any risk to safety can be addressed, progressively, as much through external factors, such as its operational design domain [ODD] as by product design. Indeed, at SAE L4 an automated vehicle’s ODD may often prove to be the decisive factor in determining it’s safety, particularly where has a relatively rudimentary level of ADS.
4. The role of a user-in-charge, as proposed, is largely antithetical to the concept of full automation at SAE L5. However, it is conceivable that a user-in-charge might be justified at SAE L5 in exceptional circumstances: as where, for example, dangerous substances are being transported by a fully automated vehicle. However, in such a scenario, the need for a user-in-charge would less attributable to the innate characteristics of the automated driving system (ADS), as opposed to its intended use.