The UK Department of Transport has announced it will publish a new code of practice in 2015 to allow the testing of autonomous cars to go ahead in designated areas, in a bid for the UK to become a world leader in driverless technology.
The Government has promised a full review of current road-use legislation by the summer of 2017. This will involve rewriting the Highway Code and adjustments to MOT test guidelines, potentially taking into account whether a higher standard of driving should be demanded of automated vehicles. It is also providing £19m to launch four driverless car schemes in four UK locations, including a fully autonomous shuttle in Greenwich, London, and a BAE System-developed Wildcat vehicle, which will be tested in Bristol.
The US was the first country to introduce legislation to permit testing of automated vehicles, adds a BBC report.
Signal spotted by Ariel Muller
Image ULTra PRT / BAA
Regulation is crucial to scaling automated vehicles, but other sectors will need to catch up. The Institute of the Motor Industry is concerned that the service and repair sector do not yet have the skills and infrastructure in place to deal with the new technology, and has called on businesses to address this.
The hope is that automated vehicles will make road use both safer and more efficient, cutting out unnecessary mileage and facilitating smart car-sharing services.