Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: The future? Contents

Chapter 5: International cooperation, regulation and standards

142.Many of the issues which need to be addressed in order for the UK to gain full benefit from connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) will require action within the UK. But CAV are being tested and deployed in countries around the world, and so globally agreed regulations and standards will be required to help address these issues and allow the full benefits of CAV to be realised. We consider these issues in this Chapter.


143.We were told that CAV could be susceptible to hacking and used for malicious purposes. CAVT Ltd said that CAV could be used for criminal or terrorist purposes, “such as delivering drugs, firearms or explosives as a car bomb, kidnapping [or] driving into crowds of people”.166 Of course conventional vehicles can and are used for all of these activities, however, there is a risk that it will be easier to use a CAV because—at the risk of stating the obvious—they do not require a driver.

144.The insurance specialist law firm Weighmans used the analogy of cars “morphing into mobile computers with wheels and an engine”.167 There have already been examples of CAV being vulnerable to cybersecurity risks. In September 2016, there were reports that a team of hackers were able to take remote control of a Tesla Model S from a distance of 12 miles away. The hack involved “interfering with the car’s brakes, door locks, dashboard computer screen and other electronically controlled features”.168

145.As noted by Weightmans, Tesla was fortunate in this instance, “as this was a so called ‘ethical hack’ where the hackers were looking for holes in the IT security system of the car and immediately reported their findings to Tesla”.169 However, such cases highlight a real risk in using CAV. Weightmans summarised this concern:

“[T]hey [CAV] are vulnerable to the same cyber attacks as our home computers … It is not difficult to envisage hackers causing a multi vehicle accident by hijacking the connected cars.”170

146.A number of witnesses stressed the importance of the Government taking a strong coordinating role with regard to cybersecurity, and emphasised the importance of communicating with the relevant stakeholders and industry experts.171

147.Transport for West Midlands said that the Government was “the only body that can take a central coordinating role”172 and that decisions “cannot be left to the industry, EU and international standards coordination or the devolved local highway authorities alone”.173 A similar collaborative approach was advocated by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).174

148.Dr Meyer told us that cybersecurity would be a major and ongoing challenge.175 Our evidence highlighted the role of manufacturers in cybersecurity.176 RazorSecure Limited said that hardware and software manufacturers and operators should be required to put in place “a multi-layered approach featuring techniques such as firewall, encryption, intrusion detection and active response even when not connected”.177

149.In the National Cyber Security Strategy 2016–2021 the Government stated that further research into cybersecurity for autonomous systems may be funded through the upcoming Cyber Science and Technology Strategy.178

150.We recommend that funding is allocated for cybersecurity of CAV through the upcoming Cyber Science and Technology Strategy. Cybersecurity should also form an integral part of the Government’s review of the regulatory framework for CAV.

151.The Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) is well placed to take a coordinating role with regard to cybersecurity for CAV. It should involve the newly established National Cyber Security Centre in this work as well as external stakeholders and experts.

152.An international effort is necessary to tackle the risks associated with cybersecurity, which are likely to rise—especially on a global scale—as the use of CAV increases. The Government could lead on this, in order to facilitate the establishment of global standards.


153.We were told that realising the full benefits of CAV is likely to require new road and communications infrastructure. But CAV technology is not yet sufficiently developed to enable a precise description of these changes.

154.Nonetheless, we were told that consideration should be given now to the types of infrastructure required to avoid expensive retro-fitting of infrastructure in the short to medium term. The Transport Systems Catapult said that “infrastructure that is being imagined, designed, and built now, needs to have capability for future compatibility and functionality built-in from the get go”.179 A similar point was made by PA Consulting.180

155.Professor Newman said that infrastructure changes should not be seen as a precursor to autonomy and any useful infrastructure changes would be driven by the market and not by the Government. Others, however, including CAVT Ltd, pointed to a requirement for a large investment in standardisation of the UK roads infrastructure:

“[M]ore needs to be spent on upgrading all classes of road and communications, including standardisation of road layouts, traffic control, etc. in urban canyons, tunnels and remote rural areas.”181

156.Mobile coverage on UK roads will need to be improved to take full advantage of the possibilities of connected vehicles. In December 2016 Ofcom published its report, Connected Nations 2016, which stated that in 2016 6% of UK A and B roads did not have mobile voice coverage and 20% of UK A and B roads did not have 4G mobile data coverage—although this has improved from 10% and 47%, respectively, in 2015.182 The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) told us that only 48% of British roads have full 3G coverage and 18% have full 4G coverage.183

157.The Rt Hon John Hayes MP told us that those areas that have poor mobile and broadband coverage could potentially become more isolated in the future if CAV relied on those technologies. He went on to say “I am very determined to make sure that does not happen by the steps the Government can take.”184

European Commission strategy

158.On 14 April 2016 the Transport Ministers of all 28 EU member states signed the Amsterdam Declaration on Cooperation in the field of connected and automated driving.185 The declaration contained an agreement to work towards a coherent European framework for the deployment of interoperable connected and automated vehicles; it also recognised the need for Europe-wide cooperation in order to maximise the potential benefits of the technology and ensure compatibility across borders.

159.The declaration was followed by the publication of a strategy by the European Commission, A European strategy on Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems, a milestone towards cooperative, connected and automated mobility, on 30 November 2016.186 The aim of the strategy is to allow for the deployment of connected vehicles that communicate with each other and on-road infrastructure in Europe by 2019. An appropriate EU level legal framework will be adopted by 2018.187

160.The strategy states that a hybrid mix of communication technologies is needed to support connected vehicles and the current most promising mix is existing mobile networks and ETSI ITS-G5. ETSI ITS-G5 is a European standard for wireless vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to roadside infrastructure communication.188

161.Ms Depré told us that connected vehicles will be an essential step to realising the benefits of automation and this is why the Commission has developed a strategy for deployment of connected vehicles by 2019.189 It remains to be seen what impact, if any, Brexit will have on this.

162.Highways England and Local Transport Authorities should jointly engage with the industry to examine the potential for ensuring that new infrastructure can be future-proofed and does not need expensive retro-fitting.

163.The Government must take action with Highways England to improve digital connectivity, removing ‘not-spots’ on British roads—in particular on the strategic road network—in order to realise the benefits of connected vehicles, which, according to the European Commission, are likely to become available in the next three years. This can be done through the Digital Economy Bill and the implementation of the Universal Service Obligation to create a ubiquitous digital network. It will also require work at an international level to ensure the development of international standards relating to connected vehicles.

Data governance and use

164.A large amount of data is already collected from vehicles—for example location data from satellite navigation systems—and this is likely to grow as CAV become more widely available.190 We received evidence that exploiting such data could lead to a number of benefits for transport authorities and road users—such as monitoring infrastructure condition or improving traffic signal performance191—but the use of this data also raises a number of issues around privacy and data protection.

165.The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is responsible for enforcing the Data Protection Act 1998, which governs the use of personal data. The ICO plans to issue a call for evidence on CAV to develop understanding of public attitudes towards the technology and to find out what steps vehicle manufacturers and technology providers are taking to address data protection concerns.192

166.The ICO said that if the personal data of vehicle drivers and users such as in the case of geolocation data was processed inappropriately, there was “a heightened risk of intrusion into individuals’ work and private lives”. It therefore advocated that the Government and technology providers adopt a “privacy by design approach” and “ensure that privacy protections are built in to the design and development of new products and services”.193

167.The ICO told us that it would “welcome the opportunity to engage with the Government, the Department for Transport and CCAV to help ensure the [data protection] issues identified are adequately addressed”.194 Similarly, the Government’s response to the House of Commons Transport Committee report, Motoring of the future, said that the Government would liaise with the ICO to ensure that consumers can be confident that data are being used appropriately.195

168.The legal framework for data protection will change with the implementation of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) from 2018. It is as yet unclear what impact Brexit will have on the continued implementation of the EU GDPR. However, any replacement is likely to require international cooperation and agreements with both the EU and other countries because of the global nature of data usage and storage.

169.It is essential that any data gathered from CAV are used in accordance with data protection law. We welcome the fact that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has undertaken initial work with vehicle manufacturers, and is launching its own call for evidence.

170.However, the meaning of personal data is unclear in the context of CAV. It will be important to achieve privacy for individuals and communities, while using data to achieve efficiency and safety of CAV operations. Data relating to an individual’s CAV in terms of position, speed and performance on the road cannot be regarded as entirely personal—such data is needed for public benefit if a CAV system is to operate as a whole. Good data governance will therefore be needed to secure appropriate protection of personal information while safely using and linking open and non-sensitive data. Distinctions will need to be made between commercially sensitive data owned by technology providers and open data.

171.We recommend that the Government liaise with the ICO, automotive manufacturers and other interested parties, including international partners, to ensure that CAV and the data they produce comply with the relevant privacy and data protection legislation and that this legislation is appropriate and workable, and keeps pace with the technology.

172.It is likely that insurance companies and the Police will need access to data when CAV are involved in an accident in order to ascertain what happened, and who (or what) was at fault, as highlighted in evidence from the Association of British Insurers.196

173.We heard from Ian Yarnold, Head of International Vehicle Standards Division at the DfT, that international discussions at the UN Economic Commission for Europe are at an early stage, but that he expected standards for data storage to emerge in the short term.197

174.We were also told about the importance of the Police being able to interrogate stored data in the event of an accident.198 Mr Gooding told us that he did not think that the software was sufficiently user-friendly as to enable the Police to get answers to the type of questions they may ask after an accident.199

175.We welcome the Government’s work at an international level to draw up standards for data retention in the event of an accident involving CAV. These standards will ensure that manufacturers provide access to the necessary data in the case of an accident. The Government must also ensure that the Police and the wider criminal justice system have the necessary skills, tools and access to be able to appropriately interrogate the stored data.

Ethical issues

176.We were told that the increase in the development and deployment of CAV would also raise ethical issues. The main ethical issue raised was the moral dilemma, in which a fatal collision is imminent and a CAV must, based on its prior programming, ‘choose’ who to save—often referred to as the ‘trolley problem’.200

177.In the context of CAV, the problem centres on whether an autonomous vehicle should act to protect the passengers, or external parties (such as pedestrians).

178.Consequently, there is a conundrum faced by car manufacturers, buyers and regulators. Professor Newman highlighted a recent paper, The social dilemma of autonomous vehicles, which found that “even though participants approve of autonomous vehicles that might sacrifice passengers to save others, respondents would prefer not to ride in such vehicles”.201

179.There was a divergence of views amongst our witnesses regarding how these ethical issues should be addressed.

180.On the one hand, some of our witnesses said it was not only possible to programme CAV to be able to make these decisions, but that this could also be a good thing.202 Ageas (UK) Limited said that CAV should be programmed “to avoid getting into situations in which a choice of this nature needs to be made”.203 They said that CAV could, for example, be prevented from driving faster than a speed that enables them to stop for or avoid an obstacle that might present itself in the road. This is called ‘defensive driving’.204

181.Several witnesses subsequently argued that there should be some form of code of practice or set of internationally recognised standards and norms.205 Professor David Lane told us:

“Engineers alone should not be left to programme behaviours into robots that cross ethical boundaries … A culture of ethical concern should be encouraged across the international R&D [research and development] community. This requires an international effort and the evolution of ethical counsels to provide the reference guidelines and standards.”206

182.On the other hand, others disagreed and believed that such an approach was not achievable or desirable. The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) highlighted the challenge of pre-programming a decision for CAV, because “how can the so-called ‘lesser of two evils’ be determined?”207

183.This raises the question of whether there will be approved ethical processes to be checked as part of Type Approval and how after-market fitting of autonomous systems to existing vehicles can be regulated.208 Moreover, there would be questions over whether different countries might impose different ethical requirements for CAV to operate on their roads. This might cause difficulties when people take their vehicles abroad.

184.A number of witnesses expressed an entirely different view, believing that the ethical discussion surrounding CAV was over-emphasised and artificial.209 ITS United Kingdom said that there were “urban myths” in this area “about whether an AV [autonomous vehicle] will be programmed to kill a child or a pensioner, whether it will care about dogs, and so on”.210

185.Other witnesses did not offer an opinion on the severity or means to address these ethical issues, but said further research was necessary. As noted by IAM RoadSmart, the debate on the moral issues around CAV “has only just started and needs to be much wider and more transparent”.211 Professor Sharples in her written evidence argued that “before deciding on such a philosophical definition of human judgement, we need research into what human drivers actually do in an emergency before judging algorithms”.212 We discussed human factors in more detail in Chapter 4 (paragraphs 122–132).

186.The increased development and deployment of CAV raises ethical issues. The Government should keep this in mind as it takes forward its programme of regulatory reform for CAV, including taking a leading role in the development of international standards to address the ethical issues. These standards will need to ensure that companies are transparent about the way vehicles deal with these issues.

Marine sector

187.In the marine sector, autonomous vehicles are being developed on several scales, from small remotely operated subsea gliders to unmanned cargo ships. Applications include commercial shipping, naval and defence, oil and gas and offshore renewables and marine science sectors.

188.IMarEST told us that regulation is the biggest challenge for autonomous marine vehicles.213 Maritime regulations are agreed through the International Maritime Organisation. IMarEST went on to say that the UK is at “the forefront of this effort [to agree international regulation of autonomous marine vehicles] through the work of the Maritime Autonomous Systems Regulatory Working Group, supported and driven by both the private sector and government agencies, in particular the Maritime & Coastguard Agency”.214

189.We welcome the UK’s leading role in the development of international regulation for marine autonomous vehicles and encourage the Government to continue to drive forward this initiative. There is potential for significant early benefit to accrue to the UK once a new international regulatory framework is in place.

166 Written evidence from CAVT Ltd (AUV0061)

167 Written evidence from Weightmans (AUV0080)

168 ‘Team of hackers take remote control of Tesla Model S from 12 miles away’, The Guardian (20 September 2016): [accessed 29 December 2016]

169 Written evidence from Weightmans (AUV0080)

170 Written evidence from Weightmans (AUV0080)

171 Written evidence from Starship Technologies Ltd (AUV0072) and Transport for West Midlands (AUV0075)

172 Written evidence from Transport for West Midlands (AUV0075)

173 Written evidence from Transport for West Midlands (AUV0075)

174 Written evidence from TfGM (AUV0027)

175 Q 26 (Dr Hermann Meyer)

176 Written evidence from the RoSPA (AUV0025)

177 Written evidence from RazorSecure Limited (AUV0018)

178 HM Government, National Cyber Security Strategy 2016–2021 (2016): [accessed 18 January 2017]

179 Written evidence from Transport Systems Catapult (AUV0071)

180 Written evidence from PA Consulting Group (AUV0008)

181 Written evidence from CAVT Ltd (AUV0061)

182 Ofcom, Connected Nations 2016 (16 December 2016): [accessed 9 January 2017]

183 Written evidence from the SMMT (AUV0058)

184 Q 71 (John Hayes CBE MP)

185 The Netherlands EU Presidency 2016, Declaration of Amsterdam: Cooperation in the field of connected and automated driving (14 April 2016): [accessed 10 January 2017]

186 Communication from the Commission on A European strategy on Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems, a milestone towards cooperative, connected and automated mobility, COM(2016) 766

187 European Commission, ‘Intelligent transport systems: Commission presents a Strategy towards cooperative, connected and automated mobility’ (30 November 2016):–11-30-c-its-strategy_en [accessed 5 January 2017]

188 European Commission, ‘Intelligent transport systems: Commission presents a Strategy towards cooperative, connected and automated mobility’ (30 November 2016):–11-30-c-its-strategy_en [accessed 5 January 2017]

189 Q 22 (Clare Depré)

190 Supplementary written evidence from White Willow Consulting (Andy Graham) (AUV0094)

191 Supplementary written evidence from White Willow Consulting (Andy Graham) (AUV0094)

192 Written Evidence from the ICO (AUV0066)

193 Written evidence from the ICO (AUV0066)

194 Written Evidence from the ICO (AUV0066)

195 Transport Committee, Motoring of the future: Government response to the Committee’s Eighth Report of Session 2014–15 (Second Special Report, Session 2015–16, HC 349)

196 Written evidence from the ABI and Thatcham Research (AUV0051)

197 Q 9 (Ian Yarnold)

198 Written evidence from PA Consulting Group (AUV0008) and Keoghs LLP (AUV0014)

199 Q 54 (Steve Gooding)

200 Q 34 (John McCarthy). The ‘trolley problem’ (or ‘trolley dilemma’) consists of a series of hypothetical scenarios developed by British philosopher Philippa Foot in 1967. The general form of the problem is this: there is a runaway trolley barrelling down the railway tracks. There are five people tied up ahead on the tracks and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them; you are standing some distance off, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You therefore have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track; or (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the most ethical choice?

201 Written evidence from Prof Paul Newman, University of Oxford (AUV0041)

202 Written evidence from Prof Paul Newman, University of Oxford (AUV0041)

203 Written evidence from Ageas (UK) Limited (AUV0042)

204 Written evidence from Ageas (UK) Limited (AUV0042)

205 Written evidence from the BMF (AUV0019), Peak Power (AUV0043), the Royal Aeronautical Society (AUV0077) and SmarterUK (AUV0089)

206 Written evidence from Prof David Lane CBE (AUV0050)

207 Written evidence from the IFoA (AUV0059)

208 Type Approval is the confirmation that production samples of a design will meet specified performance standards. The specification of the product is recorded and only that specification is approved.

209 Written evidence from Mills & Reeve LLP (AUV0035) and the SMMT (AUV0058)

210 Written evidence from ITS United Kingdom (AUV0036)

211 Written evidence from IAM RoadSmart (AUV0022)

212 Written evidence from Prof Sarah Sharples and colleagues, University of Nottingham (AUV0049)

213 Written evidence from the IMarEST (AUV0064)

214 Written evidence from the IMarEST (AUV0064)

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