self-driving cars could arrive on UK roads by end of 2021

The United Kingdom (UK) Government has announced that self-driving cars fitted with automated lane-keeping system (ALKS) technology could arrive on British roads by the end of 2021.

Designed for use on a motorway in slow traffic, ALKS enables a vehicle to drive itself in a single lane with speeds limited to 37mp/h (≈60 km/h), while maintaining a safe distance from traffic. This allows the driver to let the car take over driving, but they must be ready to grab back control if required.

“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 UK Transport Minister Rachel Maclean.

“But we must ensure that this exciting new tech is deployed safely, which is why we are consulting on what rules to enable this should look like. In doing so, we can improve transport for all, securing the UK’s place as a global science superpower.”

By reducing human error, which contributes to over 85 per cent of accidents, the technology could help to improve road safety. The driver will be able to hand over control to the vehicle, which will constantly monitor speed whilst maintaining a safe distance from other cars.

“The automotive industry welcomes this vital step to permit the use of automated vehicles on UK roads, which will put Britain in the vanguard of road safety and automotive technology. Automated driving systems could prevent 47,000 serious accidents and save 3,900 lives over the next decade through our ability to reduce the single largest cause of road accidents – human error,” said SMMT Chief Executive, Mike Hawes.

“Technologies such as Automated Lane Keeping Systems will pave the way for higher levels of automation in the 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.”

Further details are yet to be announced on how this technology will be tested and approved.

Source: GOV.UK | Government paves the way for self-driving vehicle on UK roads

29 April 2021

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