Autonomous cars on British roads by January 2015

Published: 30 July 2014

The British government today announced new laws to allow autonomous cars on UK roads by 2015, prompting a review of the Highway Code and new legal measures to make sure driverless cars comply with current motoring law.

Business secretary Vince Cable attended an event at the motor industry test facility at MIRA in the Midlands to unveil the measures, which include a £10 million regional fund for cities to apply to become a driverless car test area.

Up to three cities will be selected to share the funding for trials that are expected to last between 18-36 months.

Cable confirmed that autonomous cars will be allowed on British roads from January 2015 – so get ready for the prospect of seeing ‘drivers’ sitting at the wheel either a) reading the newspaper b) asleep or c) looking absolutely petrified (delete as per your personal views).

The announcement comes in the week that a quarter of British adults fear the dawn of the driverless car. Read the full autonomous car survey here.

Where can autonomous cars test in the UK?

Today, driverless cars are only permitted on private test facilities such as MIRA and Millbrook, GM’s extensive track in Bedfordshire.

The coalition government is keen to position the UK as a leading testbed for autonomous vehicles. But there’s catching up to be done; the US and Germany, to list two countries, have already permitted chip-controlled cars to test on certain controlled public roads.

Google’s driverless car has already completed nearly a third of a million miles driving around California.

Chancellor George Osborne has already promised the ‘legislative and regulatory framework demonstrates to the world’s car companies that the UK is the right place to develop and test driverless cars.’

Read more about Google’s autonomous car here.


By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet