According to the Law Commission, remote driving in the UK from abroad should not be permitted

An example of a person driving a remote-controlled car

An independent body that provides advice to the UK government believes that it should not be legal to remotely operate a vehicle while traveling outside of the country.

According to the Law Commission report on remotely operated vehicles, this is currently a "legal grey area.".

Car rental companies would like to use the vehicles that are already used in warehouses, mines, and farms but which are controlled by an outside driver.

Autonomous vehicles may also be supported by the technology.

There is no specific legal requirement for the driver to be inside the vehicle they are operating, according to the commission, which reviews English and Welsh law. .

According to its report, it is neither "prohibited nor expressly allowed.".

However, there is a lot of interest in using remote driver technology, for instance, to deliver rental cars, as this could cut down on the time and cost of a delivery driver's return trip.

According to the report, two businesses are already experimenting with remote driving to deliver vehicles to customers in the UK.

Currently, a safety driver is inside the vehicle while it is being remotely operated, but both companies expressed the hope that by the end of the year, that would no longer be necessary.

Another method for supporting automated vehicles is remote driving. A remote safety driver could take control, for instance, if a self-driving car ran into a situation it couldn't handle.

The following risks associated with remote driving were mentioned in the report as safety concerns:

  • a break in the communication between the remote driver and the car.
  • Drivers operating remotely might be less "situationally aware" than those driving inside a car.
  • A remote driver might experience a sense of detachment or virtual reality.
  • the risk of cyber-attacks and worries that vehicles that have been compromised could be used in terrorism.
  • the absence of a driver who can handle emergencies. For instance, a remote driver is unable to provide first aid following an accident.

Additionally, there might be legal issues.

Some manufacturers of remotely operated vehicles had proposed that their operational hubs could be located in several European nations, including Estonia and Belarus.

However, the report made the case that sending drivers abroad might make it more challenging to prosecute them for crimes.

"It would not be possible to identify the driver and administer a breathalyzer test sufficiently quickly before the driver sobers up, for example, if the vehicle is driven in a way associated with drunk driving," it stated.

The report concluded that until "adequate international agreements" were in place, remote driving from abroad should be prohibited due to "difficulties in enforcement.".

It also came to the conclusion that organizations should be held accountable for technical issues that are beyond the control of remote drivers while remote drivers should still be held accountable for their actions.

Additionally, it recommended that businesses using remote drivers to operate vehicles outside of their line of sight be required to possess one of two new licenses.

Nicholas Paines KC of the Law Commission stated: "Remote driving is a fascinating technology, but before we see remotely driven vehicles on UK roads, we must address safety concerns through strict regulation. ".

The government will carefully consider the Law Commission's recommendations, according to transport minister Jesse Norman.

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