UK government sets sights on advanced automated vehicle trials

The UK government announced today that it is developing a process to support advanced trials of automated vehicles, as it seeks to reassure the public about its plans to have self-driving cars on the streets by 2021.

It will also strengthen its code of practice for testing automated vehicles, to set clearer expectations for safe and responsible trials.

“We need to ensure we take the public with us as we move towards having self-driving cars on our roads by 2021.”

Automotive Minister Richard Harrington

The existing code of practice says that automated vehicle trials are possible on any UK road, providing they are compliant with UK law. Through its update to the code, the government is seeking to address the industry’s desire to conduct more advanced trials on public roads.

The strengthened code will require those carrying out automated vehicle trials to publish safety information and trial performance reports and to carry out risk assessments ahead of a trial.

Organisations planning trials will also need to inform the relevant authorities, emergency services and anyone who might be affected by trial activity.

“Thanks to the UK’s world class research base, this country is in the vanguard of the development of new transport technologies, including automation,” said Future of Mobility Minister Jesse Norman.

“The government is supporting the safe, transparent trialling of this pioneering technology, which could transform the way we travel.”

Automotive Minister Richard Harrington said: “The UK has a rich heritage in automotive development and manufacturing, with automated and electric vehicles set to transform the way we all live our lives.

“We need to ensure we take the public with us as we move towards having self-driving cars on our roads by 2021,” continued Harrington.

“The update to the code of practice will provide clearer guidance to those looking to carry out trials on public roads.”

The government wants the UK to become a leader in the connected and automated vehicles market – set to be worth more than £50 billion by 2035 – and has committed to having fully self-driving vehicles on UK roads by 2021.