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February 7, 2019

UK government to set out safety rules on AV trials

The UK government says it has launched a process to support OEMs and technology companies undertaking advanced trials of automated vehicles.

By Sam Duke

The UK government says it has launched a process to support OEMs and technology companies undertaking advanced trials of automated vehicles.

It says advanced trials will not be supported unless they have passed rigorous safety assessments. The government will also be updating its code of practice for testing automated vehicles to set clearer expectations for safe and responsible trials.

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 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.

The UK market for connected and automated vehicles estimated to be worth GBP52bn by 2035, and a government strategy is to welcome investment from international transport technology companies. The government has also made a commitment to have fully self-driving vehicles on UK roads by 2021, as part of its Industrial Strategy plan.

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.”

In October last year Volvo Cars and chipmaker Nvidia announced the joint development of an AI-powered computing platform for vehicles, as the two companies deepened collaboration after entering an autonomous vehicle partnership in 2016.

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