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UK government readies code of practice for driverless cars

With the UK hoping to become a force when it comes to driverless cars, changes will need to be made to the Highway Code and MOT test regulations, according to a new report from the Department of Transport.

We already knew that the Highway Code would need modification, but the government intends to produce a code of practice this spring, says a BBC report – which will mean the testing of self-driving cars can start on UK roads.

As it stands, driverless cars will need a qualified driver to supervise the vehicle’s actions – and true self-driving cars are some way off down the line. A review of the relevant legislation has been scheduled for the summer of 2017, and among other matters, that will decide whether a higher standard of driving will be required for automated vehicles.

Transport minister Claire Perry told the Beeb: "Driverless vehicle technology has the potential to be a real game-changer on the UK's roads, altering the face of motoring in the most fundamental of ways and delivering major benefits for road safety, social inclusion, emissions and congestion.”

Better safety and less accidents, of course, means less congestion – as accidents are usually the cause of those big motorway snarl-ups we all detest.

The government also unveiled the self-driving pods which are to be trialled in Milton Keynes and Coventry. That’s part of four major projects (in Bristol and Greenwich, as well as the aforementioned cities) which will take place this year.

The Coventry and Milton Keynes schemes are part of the £20 million UK Autodrive project, which will look into not just real-world testing, but the regulations needed in terms of the legal side of driverless cars, and insurance issues.

Last week, over in Germany transport minister Alexander Dobrindt revealed plans to craft new laws for the legalisation of driverless cars on autobahns – which will happen in the next five years. The race for the realisation of driverless tech is well and truly on, it would seem.

Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.