Burges Salmon is an independent top 50 UK law firm. Following their contribution to the UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030: CAM Creators Update, we spoke with Brian Wong, a Director for Burges Salmon’s Transport Sector, on the new Roadmap release, what legislation means for connected and automated mobility, and Burges Salmon’s plans for the future. 

Burges Salmon Brian Wong quote

Brian chairs Burges Salmon’s cross-firm Transport Technology and Intelligent Mobility team (TTIM), which draws on the firm’s leading expertise across transport, technology and communications, infrastructure, data, energy and health and safety. Key to Brian and the team is recognising how all these disciplines come together when advising on future mobility.

Burges Salmon & Connected and Automated Mobility to date 

Burges Salmon, including Brian’s team, has been at the forefront of legal analysis and development of regulation and standards in the CAM space for six years. In 2014, Innovate UK commissioned the first Four Cities Trials, during which Burges Salmon worked on the VENTURER project. 

Since then, the team has been involved consistently in CAM projects (including each of the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles’ (CCAV) CAV1-3 rounds), publication of thought-leadership papers, British Standards Institution (BSI) standards projects and Law Commission consultations.

Why is legislation so key to the development of CAM in the UK?

In many ways, CAM represents not just an evolution of existing transport modes and models but, in some cases, complete reinvention. This can be seen across modes of transport, vehicle use and ownership, ways of thinking about mobility data, and road driving as an activity. Increasingly, the total system is becoming as important as it is for other transport modes, such as aviation and rail, in a way that it historically has not for road vehicles. The UK’s driving laws still date back to the 19th century and are designed solely for human driving.

Burges Salmon strongly advocates for development of legislation keeping pace with the development and emergence of CAM – not just to remove unnecessary or obsolete blockers but moreover to facilitate the type of legislative environment that CAM will need to deploy and succeed. The risk to the industry is not just of under-regulation but over-regulation stifling innovation. Such changes should be based on available evidence and understanding of the nature of the technology and its development to allow for evolution through flexibility and adaptation.

That is why Burges Salmon lawyers are directly involved in legal research and development. We assess the law and the need for practical legal reform from an informed standpoint, with the benefit of first hand experience of the technology and its development.

What are the main CAM focuses for Burges Salmon in the short and long term?

There are three main CAM focuses for Burges Salmon in the short term: 

  1. Our existing CAV project commitments on Capri (dual road/public space pods), Robopilot (automated light commercial vehicles) and MultiCAV (integrating CAVs into multi-modal public transport)
  2. The conclusion of the Law Commissions’ project on reform of laws for CAVs and recommendations in 2021
  3. Our various technical author and steering group/advisory group roles on the BSI’s CAV Standards Programme ranging from terminology to data and safety aspects of CAV operation and trials

In the longer term, our focus will be to support and facilitate the emerging CAM industry and deployment of commercial CAM projects in the UK and beyond both for specific use cases and general operation.

How do these align with the Roadmap? 

From active involvement in the shorter term research and development phases through to the creation of an enabling legislative and standards framework for testing and deployment to implementation of commercial CAM solutions, our activities and focus align with the Roadmap and its core milestones. 

Why did you decide to be involved with the Roadmap?

The Roadmap is the first articulation of what we have known from the outset: that a successful UK CAM industry is dependent on cross-disciplinary collaboration between an extraordinarily diverse range of stakeholders.

As well as making those linkages within our own organisation, we have worked with dozens of partners from across academia and the public and private sectors in our CAV projects (e.g. 12 in VENTURER; 17 in FLOURISH; and 20 in Capri). Mapping those interactions, and the interfaces between stakeholders, to when they are crucial to delivery of key milestones is immensely valuable.

Have you seen any specific benefit from being part of the Roadmap’s journey so far?

Probably the most notable benefits to us are the clarity that it brings to our planning and interventions as an organisation, and also the profile that it has given to the UK’s CAM sector, both in the UK and internationally.

As an independent UK law firm, we have also established a network of leading firms in this specialist area in other jurisdictions globally as well. The UK’s development of its regulatory framework and collaborative industry efforts are recognised as world-leading and the Roadmap is an important part of that picture.

Can you tell us how you’ve been working so far with projects such as the Capri and Robopilot projects?

Taking the VENTURER and FLOURISH projects as an example, we typically partner with world-leading universities, innovative public authorities, pioneering new start-ups, CAM developers, and some of the best known engineering and research organisations. Alongside their trialling and testing of technology, we work with them to assess and formulate the current legal landscape and make recommendations for reform based on learnings from the trials.

With Capri and Robopilot, we are moving beyond pure technology trials towards trialling for specific use cases. Respectively, they are trialling pod-based solutions capable of operating on roads and other public spaces, and automated light commercial vehicles for urban deliveries. We combine our expertise on the current regulatory position with output from the trials and our trial partners to develop and report on an understanding of the potential of the use cases and how legal reforms could support the realisation of their potential.

You’re working on several BSI standards developments – how do they help the development of CAM more generally?

Like CCAV, Zenzic and the BSI, we believe standards play an important role in the development of CAM. Standards are already familiar to those in the technology, automotive and infrastructure industries, and support not only a common understanding of terminology and methodology, but how stakeholders can communicate and collaborate on as well as specify and market the technology.

Work done at BSI level draws from across the whole CAM industry. It also links directly to the international level and is key to supporting not only a thriving UK sector but one that drives growth internationally as well.

Thank you to Brian from Burges Salmon for taking the time to talk to us. Explore the latest Roadmap release, which includes contributions from Burges Salmon and 116 other organisations in UK connected and automated mobility.