The UK government has announced that self-driving vehicles may be allowed on UK roads already by the end of this year, further proving its innovation and commitment to the development and adoption of new technologies.
The Department for Transport said automated lane-keeping systems (ALKS) would be the first type of hands-free driving legalized. The technology monitors the position and speed of the vehicle in one lane and will be limited to 37 mph (60 km / h), according to the BBC.
Insurers have warned that the government's definition of ALKS as “self-driving” is misleading, although vehicles with ALKS technology can be legally defined as self-driving, “as long as they receive GB type approval and that there is no evidence to challenge the vehicle's ability to self-drive."
The government has confirmed that drivers will not be required to keep an eye on the road or keep their hands on the steering wheel when the vehicle is moving on its own. However, they will need to remain vigilant and be able to intervene at the request of the system within 10 seconds. The Highway Code is currently discussing what rules will be included in the new laws to ensure the safe use of the technology.
“This is a major step for the safe use of self-driving vehicles in the UK, making future journeys greener, easier and more reliable while also helping the nation to build back better,” said Transport Minister Rachel Maclean. “But we must ensure that this exciting new tech is deployed safely, which is why we are consulting on what the rules to enable this should look like,” he added.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said the technology could improve road safety by reducing human error. “Automated driving systems could prevent 47,000 serious accidents and save 3,900 lives over the next decade through their ability to reduce the single largest cause of road accidents—human error,” said chief executive Mike Hawes. “Technologies such as Automated Lane Keeping Systems will pave the way for higher levels of automation in future—and these advances will unleash Britain's potential to be a world leader in the development and use of these technologies, creating essential jobs while ensuring our roads remain among the safest on the planet.”
Tesla cars, among other things, use lane technology similar to ALKS, and they are already moving along the roads of the UK. After the legalization of self-driving cars, the deployment of Tesla autonomous systems in the country will become even faster and wider.
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Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.