News story

Government moves forward on advanced trials for self-driving vehicles

A process is being developed to support advanced trials of automated vehicles.

Autonomous vehicle
  • government strengthens guidelines on trial safety and transparency
  • UK seeks to cement position as a world leader in automated vehicle trials
  • government to develop process to help support advanced trials

In a strong signal of support for the UK automotive and technology industries, the government has announced today (6 February 2019) that a process is being developed to support the advanced trials of automated vehicles. Advanced trials will not be supported unless they have passed rigorous safety assessments.

In response to feedback from industry, the government has also announced that its world leading code of practice for testing automated vehicles will be strengthened further to set even clearer expectations for safe and responsible trials.

The news reinforces the UK’s status as a global leader in the safe and responsible testing of automated vehicles. With the UK’s market for connected and automated vehicles estimated to be worth £52 billion by 2035, this is a major boost to a sector open to investment from the world’s brightest transport technology companies. It also demonstrates that the government is on track to meet its commitment to have fully self-driving vehicles on UK roads by 2021, as part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy.

Jesse Norman, Future of Mobility Minister, said:

Thanks to the UK’s world class research base, this country is in the vanguard of the development of new transport technologies, including automation.

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

Richard Harrington, Automotive Minister, 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 want to ensure through the Industrial Strategy Future of Mobility Grand Challenge that we build on this success and strength to ensure we are home to development and manufacture of the next generation of vehicles.

We need to ensure we take the public with us as we move towards having self-driving cars on our roads by 2021. The update to the code of practice will provide clearer guidance to those looking to carry out trials on public roads.

The ‘code of practice’, first published in 2015, makes clear that automated vehicle trials are possible on any UK road provided they are compliant with UK law - including testing with a remote driver. The update to the code acknowledges the growing desire of industry to conduct more advanced trials, and a process to handle such trials on public roads is now being developed.

Under the strengthened code, those carrying out trials for automated vehicles will be expected to publish safety information, trial performance reports and to carry out risks assessments before conducting a trial. Trialling organisations are also expected to inform the relevant authorities, emergency services, and anyone who might be affected by trial activity.

This announcement is another milestone in the government’s Future of Mobility Grand Challenge, a key part of the UK’s modern Industrial Strategy, which aims to take advantage of the extraordinary innovation in UK engineering and technology to make journeys safer, cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable.

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Published 6 February 2019