Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Driverless cars on UK footpaths this year

Driverless car trials could take place on public footpaths in the UK before Christmas as efforts to advance the technology ramp up.

A key figure behind the project to test automated vehicles in the Midlands said the recent creation of a code of practice for the activity was a major boost.

The government this week published the code of practice for trialling driverless cars as well as setting aside £20M to fund innovations in the concept.

A spokesman for Transport Systems Catapult, one of the partners in the UK Autodrive consortium working on driverless cars in Milton Keynes and Coventry, said the code gave fresh momentum to this work.

“This is brilliant news,” he told transport employer body CIHT. “The code of practice opens the way for on-road trials of driverless cars and proves that UK legislation allows them to go ahead.”

The spokesman added that the consortium was aiming to start trials of low speed autonomous vehicles on public footpaths before the end of this year, with on-road driverless car trials likely to begin “within the next couple of years”.

Nick Reed, technical lead on the Gateway project to test autonomous vehicles in Greenwich, agreed that the code was a boost.

“Much research and development is required before driverless cars become commonplace on our streets, but the launch of the code of practice brings this vision a step closer,” he said.

“Now the code of practice has given the green light for testing on UK roads, it won’t be long before you see one of our self-driving vehicles out in public.”

On-road trials are likely to take place in 2016, Reed added.

NCE previously reported that the Venturer consortium was planning to run the first of three sets of experiments on driverless cars in the Bristol area next year. It is working towards a controlled test on an urban road in mid-2018.

Readers' comments (3)

  • The code of practice states "Vehicles under test on public roads must obey all relevant road traffic laws." How is this compatible with initial tests being on public footpaths?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Mark Wray

    The next round of the competition for Connected and autonomous vehicles is now open for applications - with up to £20M available.

    BIS and Innovate UK are seeking proposals that fall into one or more of the following thematic areas for both collaborative R&D and feasibility studies:
    • connectivity
    • autonomy
    • customer interaction

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Christopher Weekes

    How have we come to a situation where it is legal for cars to drive on footpaths, but not bicycles?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.