Tesla pushes to legalise driverless cars in UK

Tesla pushes to legalise driverless cars in UK

Elon Musk and Hyperloop

Tesla is pushing to legalise its self-driving system in the UK and Europe, launching a charm offensive with regulators as Elon Musk bets the carmaker’s future on autonomous driving.

The company demonstrated its “full self-driving” (FSD) technology to officials on European roads last month, taking attendees at a safety conference on test drives around Munich.

Tesla is also understood to be closely involved in updating UN regulations that govern the use of advanced driver assistance systems, which could pave the way to legalise the technology by the end of next year.

The company held a demonstration for officials from Euro NCAP, a safety ratings organisation backed by government agencies including the Department of Transport, at the industry body’s conference last month.

One official present said it was the first time Tesla had shown off the technology on European soil, although it was only active on a small number of roads.

Mr Musk is betting on the technology to boost revenues as Tesla suffers from falling car sales amid a downturn in demand for electric vehicles and competition from Chinese manufacturers.

FSD can stop at traffic lights, change lanes automatically and navigate junctions. Despite its name, the technology requires constant supervision by the driver and is seen as a “Level 2 plus” automated driving system, compared to a “Level 5” car that could drive itself fully.

Legalising the system in the UK and EU member states requires a change to UN regulations governing so-called “driver controlled assistance systems”. A task force is currently working on changing the regulations by September next year, according to meeting documents.

Tesla’s head of global policy Marc Van Impe is representing the car industry on the task force, which sources said demonstrated an unusual level of engagement from the company.

Mr Musk last week secured tentative approval to launch the company’s FSD system in China, boosting the company’s shares.

Tesla has charged buyers extra for cars to have “full self-driving capability” for several years, despite the technology not being available outside the US. The package currently costs £6,800 in the UK.

Mr Musk has said it will take longer to launch the FSD technology in countries in which cars drive on the left hand side of the road.

Separate UK legislation governing fully self-driving cars is currently in the final stages of going through parliament. The laws may see Tesla blocked from marketing its FSD system as fully self-driving.

Mr Musk has said he will unveil a fully autonomous robotaxi or “Cybercab” in August. He has suggested in the past that these vehicles may not have a steering wheel or pedals. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

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