Imagine being able to watch TV behind the wheel of a vehicle without breaking the law. It sounds dangerous, but with the rise in electric and autonomous cars, that’s exactly what’s possible, thanks to a new law passed in the U.K. by the country’s Department for Transportation.
According to the BBC, select drivers with a new vehicle can watch TV while their autonomous vehicle drives later this year. But, of course, several rules, restrictions, and safety regulations are still in place.
Since 1986, the law only allowed drivers to look at an infotainment screen for “driving-related content.” However, starting this year, as long as a driver is ready to take back control and has an autonomous vehicle, they can view content “through the vehicle’s built-in infotainment apparatus.” No such vehicle exists yet, at least by Britain’s standards, so it looks like the DfT is simply preparing for the future.
As we said above, several restrictions are in place, and it will remain illegal to use a mobile device. The biggest restriction is that this new law only applies to cars registered and categorized as self-driving vehicles under British laws.
It sounds like the reasoning here is an auto manufacturer can control the infotainment display, pause content, and request the driver to take over when necessary. That’s not possible on mobile devices or rear screens playing a movie or streaming Netflix.
Self-driving cars are not yet legal in the U.K., but the Department for Transport said they might be ready later in 2022. If that happens, it’ll need rules ready to go.
The new law and rules are only temporary, and a complete regulatory process will start in 2025 to fully address the situation. In closing, it’s important to note that Britain’s law explicitly states that “self-driving” cars are different from a vehicle with “assisted driving features,” like lane assist, making most current cars on the road ineligible without software updates. Vehicles must achieve full self-driving before drivers start catching up on their favorite show on the way to work.
via The Verge