The Department for Transport have announced that vehicles fitted with the Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) technology could be used on British motorways by the end of the year. The technology is seen to be a way to reduce human error on slow moving motorway lanes.
The ALKS technology is designed to be used on a motor way in slow traffic. Enabling a vehicle to drive itself in a single lane whilst maintaining speed and direction. The technology has an upper limit of 37mph.
Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said ‘’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.
‘’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. In doing so, we can improve transport for all, securing the UK’s place as a global science superpower.
‘’Self-driving technology in cars, buses and delivery vehicles could spark the beginning of the end of urban congestion, with traffic lights and vehicles speaking to each other to keep traffic flowing, reducing emissions and improving air quality in our towns and cities.
‘’Not only are automated vehicles expected to improve road safety, the technology could also improve access to transport for people with mobility issues and lead to more reliable public transport services, helping to level-up access to transport in historically disconnected and rural areas.
As we build back better, connected and autonomous vehicle technology could create around 38,000 new jobs in a UK industry that could be worth £42 billion by 2035. Over 80% of these jobs are expected to be in professional, technical and skilled trade occupations.’’
The government confirmed to the BBC that drivers will not be required to monitor the road or keep their hands on the wheel when the vehicle is driving itself.
But the driver will need to stay alert and be able take over when requested by the system within 10 seconds.
If a driver fails to respond, the vehicle will automatically put on its hazard lights to warn nearby vehicles, slow down and eventually stop.