A new government code of practice for the trialling of self-driving vehicles on UK roads has been welcomed by one of the first projects to be carrying out such trials.
Published on Sunday by the Department for Transport, the code of practice confirms that “real-world testing of automated technologies is possible in the UK today”, before going on to provide guidance “to anyone wishing to conduct testing of automated vehicle technologies on public roads or in other public places in the UK”.
The code (available here) also includes detailed recommendations on aspects ranging from safety requirements and insurance to vehicle operator training and data protection.
“The code of practice sets out in a very clear and comprehensive manner all of the main points that need to be considered as we take self-driving vehicles away from the private test tracks and onto public roads,” said Tim Armitage, project director for the UK Autodrive programme, which is preparing to trial a fleet of road-based cars and pavement-based ‘pod’ vehicles in Milton Keynes and Coventry.
“As well as providing clear guidance to those of us already embarking upon self-driving vehicle trials, the code of practice also demonstrates that the UK is embracing the opportunities presented by this exciting, new technology and positioning the UK as a great place for anyone interested in conducting future trials.”
As well as publishing the code of practice, the government has also launched a £20 million competitive fund for collaborative research and development into driverless vehicles.
Jointly announced by Business Secretary Sajid Javid and Transport Minister Andrew Jones, the funding forms part of the £100 million government investing in Intelligent Mobility unveiled by the Chancellor in the Spring 2015 Budget, and follows on from the separate ‘Introducing driverless cars to UK roads’ competition from which three consortia (including UK Autodrive) emerged successfully.
The government said they would be inviting bidders for the latest round of funding to put forward proposals in areas such as safety, reliability, how vehicles can communicate with each other and the environment around them, and how driverless vehicles can help give an ageing population greater independence.
The Department for Transport (DfT) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) have also confirmed the creation of a new joint policy unit, the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (C-CAV), which will coordinate government policy on driverless cars and connected technology.”