- Testing and Development:
- Companies conducting tests on autonomous vehicles on public roads need to obtain appropriate permissions from the relevant authorities. The UK government, through the Department for Transport (DfT), had established guidelines for testing autonomous vehicles.
- Insurance and Liability:
- The UK has established a framework for insurance and liability related to autonomous vehicles. The Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018 addresses issues such as insurance coverage in the event of accidents involving autonomous vehicles.
- Code of Practice:
- The UK government published a Code of Practice for Testing autonomous vehicles on public roads. This document outlines the expectations for organisations involved in testing autonomous vehicles, emphasising safety and communication with local authorities.
- Data Protection and Cybersecurity:
- As autonomous vehicles rely heavily on data and connectivity, data protection and cybersecurity are crucial aspects. Compliance with relevant data protection laws and ensuring the security of vehicle systems are essential.
- International Standards:
- The UK has been working to align its regulatory framework with international standards. This includes collaboration with organisations such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) on developing global regulations for automated vehicles.
- Public Perception and Education:
- The UK government has recognised the importance of public acceptance and understanding of autonomous vehicles. Efforts have been made to educate the public about the technology and address concerns related to safety and privacy.
What does the Code of Practice for Testing include?
The emergence of new technologies is expected to significantly impact traditional models in the mobility sector, reshaping both passenger and freight services markets. The government produced a Code to recognise the potential benefits of automated road vehicle technologies, anticipating enhanced safety, improved accessibility for the public, and new opportunities for the UK industry.
The testing of any level of automated vehicle technology is permissible on any UK road as long as it aligns with existing UK laws. Organisations conducting trials are not obligated to obtain permits or provide surety bonds when conducting trials in the UK. To comply with the law, these organisations must ensure the presence of a driver or operator—inside or outside the vehicle—who is ready, capable, and willing to take control of the vehicle. Additionally, a roadworthy vehicle and appropriate insurance coverage are prerequisites.
The guidelines emphasise the importance of communication with road and enforcement authorities, the development of engagement plans, and the installation of data recorders for those planning tests. The government recognises the interest in conducting advanced trials on public roads. Given that such trials may not neatly align with current UK legislation, the Department for Transport’s motoring agencies will establish a process to support those seeking to safely conduct advanced trials. This process will be accessible to the industry when they are prepared for such trials. Organisations intending to conduct advanced trials are encouraged to contact the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles in advance.
The objective of the Code is to:
- Promote Safe Trialling and Usage:
- Support and promote the safe trialling and utilisation of automated vehicle technologies and services on public roads or in other public spaces in the UK. The aim is to build public confidence in the reliability and safety of automated vehicle technologies and services.
- Foster Cooperation:
- Support collaboration between trialling organisations and entities responsible for traffic management, infrastructure, law enforcement, and other relevant areas. This collaboration is geared towards enhancing overall road safety.
- Encourage Information Sharing:
- Encourage the sharing of information to uphold and advance the highest safety standards both within the UK and internationally.
Additionally, the information within the Code may prove beneficial for local authorities, highways authorities, emergency services, licensing authorities, and others seeking guidance on engaging with trialling organisations.
- Facilitate Trialling of Various Road Vehicles:
- Facilitate the trialling of a diverse range of road vehicles, ranging from innovative types like smaller automated pods and shuttles to more conventional vehicles such as passenger, goods, and public service vehicles.
It’s important to note that this Code does not specifically address the testing and development of driver assistance systems (e.g., adaptive cruise control) or trials conducted on private test tracks or areas inaccessible to the public.