Currently reading: Fully driverless cars could run on UK roads by end of year
Government to overhaul requirements for self-driving car tests, pledges to lead world in safety standards

The government could allow fully driverless cars onto UK roads later this year.

Under current law, any autonomous vehicle being tested on public roads in the UK must be roadworthy, insured and supervised by a driver – whether in the vehicle or by remote-control – who is “ready, able and willing” to resume control at any time.

Those laws, along with a series of further guidelines, are set out in the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles’s (CCAV) 2015 Code of Practice for self-driving vehicles. The CCAV has now unveiled a series of updates to that code, and is developing a new framework for ‘advanced trials’ that could remove the need for the safety driver.

The CCAV says the “government is aware of the growing desire to conduct more advanced trials on public roads”, and notes that: “such trials may currently be outside of the law and may require support and facilitation from the Department for Transport to proceed.” As a result, the DfT will “develop and operate a process to support advanced trials on public roads.”

The CCAV says the updates to the Code of Practice will “reinforce the UK’s status as a global leader in the safe and responsible testing of automated vehicles.” As set out in the 2017 Autumn Budget, the government wants fully self-driving vehicles on UK roads by 2021, and has estimated the UK’s connected and autonomous vehicle will be worth £52 billion by 2035.

The updates to the Code of Practice also include details on how firms conducting autonomous vehicle testing can engage with relevant bodies and the public. Automotive minister Richard Harrington said: “We need to ensure we take the public with us as we move towards having self-driving cars on our roads by 2021.”

The new code includes the expectation that those conducting tests will publish safety information and performance reports before any trial takes place.

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James Attwood

James Attwood, digital editor
Title: Acting magazine editor

James is Autocar's acting magazine editor. Having served in that role since June 2023, he is in charge of the day-to-day running of the world's oldest car magazine, and regularly interviews some of the biggest names in the industry to secure news and features, such as his world exclusive look into production of Volkswagen currywurst. Really.

Before first joining Autocar in 2017, James spent more than a decade in motorsport journalist, working on Autosport,, F1 Racing and Motorsport News, covering everything from club rallying to top-level international events. He also spent 18 months running Move Electric, Haymarket's e-mobility title, where he developed knowledge of the e-bike and e-scooter markets. 

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Peter Cavellini 7 February 2019

Here’s a thought...

  fully autonomous, hypothetical scenario, if your over the limit, could you tell the Car to take you Home?, if you sit in the passenger Seat your technically not driving are you even though your own it?

That bloke 6 February 2019

This isn't going to happen. 

This isn't going to happen.  I know a junction in my town it couldn't cope with.  It's a crossroads with pedestrians.  An autonomous car wouldn't pull away until 2.00 in the morning when it's gone quiet!  Yes, I know the driver can take what's the point?  We must stop this nonsense.  Our roads are NOT suited to autonomous cars in any way whatsoever.  If they try to bring this madness in, it will result in crash after crash, or massive hold-ups.  It's crazy, just drop it.

androo 6 February 2019


I hope they bring them to my area where cars are currently being driven by drunken, aggressive animals intent on asserting their maleness. A preponderance of vehicles whose 'drivers' look all around them hundreds of times a seconds, obey the laws and have no ego would be most welcome.