We’re thinking big. We want to bring self-driving cars to the world in a way that is safe and affordable to everyone. To do this we need to test our AI in real-world conditions on public roads. We call these tests public road trials, and have put together some answers to the key questions you might have if you see one of our vehicles in your neighbourhood.
Public Road Trials
What is a public road trial? A public road trial is a carefully planned and coordinated activity with clearly defined aims and objectives. It involves one or more of our research teams monitoring our AI driving in real-world, everyday scenarios. The results of these trials are fed into our development process to improve overall safety and performance.
Where are you trialling? We have ongoing trials taking place on roads across the United Kingdom, primarily in central London.
What qualifications do you have? We have a world-class team of experts from across the globe. Our team has built up a wealth of experience and knowledge in machine learning and robotics engineering and automotive safety.
What is the government doing to support you? The UK government is incredibly supportive in our efforts to trial our AI and bring self-driving cars to the world. We work closely with the government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, Department for Transport, Transport for London, local council authorities and local police forces, to meet their safety and regulatory requirements, and deliver our trials safely and efficiently.
What are your goals? UK roads, such as those in London, are the best environment in the world to be trialling an autonomous vehicle: the UK’s road network is challenging, complex and ever-changing. We aim to continue to prove we can drive safely and autonomously in this environment and take on the world beyond.
What should I do if I see you on the road? Just behave normally and safely, as you would do if you encountered any other type of vehicle on any type of road.
How do you manage personal data? Our privacy and data policy statement provides more information, which can be viewed here.
How can I trust that your vehicles won’t act out of control? We have in place an extensive safety case that documents and manages the potential hazards and risks in developing our AI. This guarantees that our AI and all our vehicles go through an extensive and phased internal validation process, and must meet our stringent safety assurance standards before we conduct public road trials. We currently do not publish our safety case as it is a living document.
In addition, we adhere to all legal requirements as laid out in the government’s Code of Practice for Autonomous Trials, including comprehensive insurance for all our trials from our insurance partner Admiral, and all UK road traffic law. Furthermore, all our vehicles have fully trained and qualified safety drivers behind the wheel at all times who are always ready, able and willing to resume control in any eventuality.
How are your safety drivers trained? All our safety drivers are vetted for significant driving experience and excellent driving histories. Once screened, to be authorised as a safety driver, all candidates must pass a specialised and comprehensive training programme that builds additional knowledge and experience, and tests their skills in the classroom, and on the road. Only once our candidates have passed through this rigorous training pipeline and met our safety standards are they employed as safety drivers.