Government takes “significant step” towards embracing automated driving technology

Government takes “significant step” towards embracing automated driving technology
The government has launched a call for evidence on using “life-changing” automated driving systems.

A consultation will consider how Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS) could make driving “safer, smoother and easier for motorists”.

Systems capable of steering a vehicle within a lane for extended periods could appear on vehicles in the UK from as early as spring 2021.

Views from the motoring industry will help shape how the technology can be safely implemented within the current legal framework.

The government will consider whether cars fitted with the systems should be legally classed as an automated vehicle, placing safety responsibilities with the technology provider, rather than the driver.

Motorists using ALKS are required to take control of their car when prompted by the system.

Although the consultation will look at proposals to allow the technology to be used at speeds of up to 70 mph, initial discussions will focus on using the automated feature at lower speeds and in specific situations.

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said: “Automated technology could make driving safer, smoother and easier for motorists and the UK should be the first country to see these benefits, attracting manufacturers to develop and test new technologies.

“The UK’s work in this area is world leading and the results from this call for evidence could be a significant step forward for this exciting technology.”

Following the approval of the ALKS Regulation in June by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) – which the UK is a member of – the technology could become available on cars in UK markets by spring 2021.

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive at the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, highlighted the safety benefits of ALKS technology: “Automated technologies for vehicles, of which automated lane keeping is the latest, will be life-changing, making our journeys safer and smoother than ever before.”

The motor industry exec believes the automated system could help “prevent some 47,000 serious accidents and save 3,900 lives over the next decade”.

The Department for Transport urge anyone with information or concerns about ALKS technology to come forward and “help shape future policy”.

A second consultation on changes to legislation and The Highway Code is scheduled for late 2020.

A summary of responses from the call for evidence will be published later this year.

How do you feel about automated driving tech? Leave us a comment and let us know if you’re excited or wary.

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