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UK plans new insurance laws to help driverless cars onto the road

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When the US government finally got around to regulating auto safety in 1967, it insisted that every car have seatbelts and that the steering column be engineered to absorb impact so it wouldn't spear the driver.

[LONDON] Britain announced plans on Wednesday for new motor insurance laws designed to encourage investment in driverless cars, as the government looks to capture a leading role in the nascent industry.

The market for autonomous driving is worth 900 billion pounds (S$1.78 trillion) worldwide, according to the government, but needs to overcome legal obstacles including determining who would be responsible in the event of an accident.

Queen Elizabeth, setting out the government's legislative agenda for the next 12 months, said there would be new laws designed to keep the country at the forefront of technology for new forms of transport, including autonomous vehicles.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said the laws would extend the existing compulsory insurance regime, which states that drivers must have insurance, to cover product liability. That would then ensure that owners of driverless cars would be insured for any accidents, he said.

Britain is currently testing driverless cars in four areas of the country, with the first such vehicles expected to take to the road later this year. Further details of the bill would be published in due course, the spokesman said.

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