Google’s self-driving startup Waymo argues the UK shouldn’t cap autonomous cars on the road

Waymo Mountain View
Close-up of self driving minivan, with LIDAR and other sensor units and logo visible, part of Google parent company Alphabet Inc, driving past historic railroad station with sign reading Mountain View, in the Silicon Valley town of Mountain View, California, with safety driver visible, October 28, 2018 Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)=
  • Google’s self-driving division Waymo argued the UK shouldn’t restrict autonomous cars on the road.
  • Its comments come as the UK consults on the regulation of driverless cars.
  • Cars with some level of self-driving capabilities will be permitted on UK roads this year.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Waymo, the self-driving vehicles startup owned by Google, has called on the UK government not to impose limits on the number of autonomous cars allowed on the road.

The tech giant’s $US30 ($AU41) billion autonomous vehicles division, spun out in 2016, is leading the charge in developing driverless cars, and faces intense competition from the likes of Tesla, Uber, and Cruise.

As part of an ongoing three-year consultation, the UK Law Commission is considering how best to regulate self-driving vehicles in the future, including their role in public transport, their use by ride-hailing services, and the liabilities of those involved in accidents.

In comments published by the Commission online, the firm’s international policy manager, Ben Loewenstein, called on lawmakers not to “limit deployment” of self-driving vehicles. “The UK’s national approval framework … should not create limited use cases or inhibit deployment,” the company wrote.

“Waymo is concerned that placing limits on deployment, as is suggested in the consultation paper, either by number or geography would do just this.”

We saw the comments via The Telegraph.

Loewenstein also called for an independent regulation to be established to oversee the operation of autonomous vehicles in the UK, rather than leave laws in the hands of politicians.

“The Law Commission’s conclusion that the ultimate decision to assess acceptable risk is a political one implies that there is a large degree of subjectivity involved in that process,” he wrote. “We believe this decision should be made as objectively as possible.”

Driverless vehicles mostly remain in trial phase in the UK, although the government said this year that vehicles with automated lane-keeping systems would be legalized.

The Commission’s consultation, which also drew comments from the likes of fellow self-driving firm Oxbotica, French motoring giant Renault, and Uber, is expected to report its findings to Parliament in Q4 this year.

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