New system to ensure safety of self-driving vehicles ahead of their sale

Pioneering new safety regime for self-driving vehicles

Interior view of prototype self-driving car, showing dashboard systems

• Future of Transport Minister opens new test facility for self-driving vehicles, 5G telecommunications and cyber security developers
• government working to enable ‘advanced’ trials of self-driving cars
• safety assurance system aims to lead to mainstream sale and use of automated vehicles

The UK’s position as a world leader in the safe testing and roll-out of self-driving vehicles has been further cemented by a new safety regime, called CAV PASS, being pioneered in the UK, Minister of State for the Future of Transport Minister, George Freeman, has announced today (4 September 2019).

To ensure self-driving vehicles are safe and secure by design and minimise any defects ahead of their testing, sale and wider deployment on UK roads, the government is developing an assurance system using its world-leading expertise in vehicle safety and cyber security within government, industry and academia.

The minister today also officially opened the Autonomous Village, a self-driving vehicle test facility at Millbrook-Culham with 70km of secure test tracks, a private mobile network and a simulator suite. This will be part of a network of self-driving vehicle test facilities across the country, co-ordinated by UK automated vehicle company Zenzic. The new ground will allow developers to safely challenge systems and collect data, to help fine-tune software, sensors, 5G telecommunications and cyber security systems.

Speaking at the Cenex-Low Carbon Vehicle conference today, Future of Transport Minister George Freeman said:

"Self-driving vehicles can offer significant rewards for the UK’s economy, road safety and accessibility. We are determined to lead in the testing and development of safe autonomous transport.

"This is new terrain, and with our national expertise the UK is well-placed to blaze the trail globally by developing a global benchmark for assuring the safety and security of this exciting technology."

Director of campaigns for road safety charity Brake, Joshua Harris said:

"Connected and autonomous vehicles have enormous potential to eliminate driver error and help put an end to the daily tragedy of deaths and serious injuries on our roads. The technology and its potential is hugely exciting but it’s critical that these vehicles are robustly tested for safety before allowing them on our roads. We support the leading role being played by UK government on this important agenda for safe mobility and the safety assurance regime will undoubtedly be fundamental to its future success."

The new safety assurance system will first focus on enabling the advanced trialling of self-driving vehicles, and aims to eventually help assure the safety and security of these vehicles for their mainstream sale and use. Such advanced trials may include those without a human operator in the loop at all times, or the assessment of novel vehicle types such as pods and shuttles.

This work builds on the world-leading code of practice for automated vehicle trials first launched by the UK in 2015 and updated this year.