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26 Aug 2020
Jamie Gibbs Alice Campion

Government introduces automated system to keep your car in lane

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Lane departure warning light on a car dashboard

A new automated system could help drivers stay in their lane on the motorway and take control when driving at low speeds.

Would you want your car to take control while driving on the motorway? Share your thoughts in the comments!

The government is researching an automated system that can take control of a vehicle at low speeds. 

The Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) is designed to make driving safer and easier.  

The system could launch in spring 2021. But first the government needs to call for evidence to find out if the system is safe for drivers.

So how will the system work? And when will it be available?

 

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What will the ALKS do?

For the first time, the ALKS will give drivers the choice to delegate control of their car.

The system will keep the vehicle in lane on the motorway at low speeds, controlling its movements for extended periods.

It’s thought that the system will ultimately make driving safer, smoother, and easier for motorists.

That said, the driver won’t be able to switch off completely and must be ready to take back control at any point.

The ALKS was approved in June 2020 by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and is likely to be available in the UK by spring 2021.

The government is now ensuring that there are regulations in place ready for its introduction.

 

How will the government decide if the ALKS is safe?

There's still research to be done on the system. And the government is still seeking views on it from the motoring industry.

One of the queries is around the role of the driver and who’s responsible for safety.

The question is, will the cars using this technology be defined legally as an 'automated vehicle'?

If yes then the technology provider would be responsible for the safety of the vehicle when it's activated, rather than the driver.

They'll also seek evidence on whether the system is safe to use on British roads at speeds of up to 70 mph.

Some automotive experts support the system. Mike Hawes, Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) Chief Executive, said:

“Automated technologies for vehicles, of which automated lane keeping is the latest, will be life-changing, helping prevent some 47,000 serious accidents and save 3,900 lives over the next decade.

“This advanced technology is ready for roll out in new models from as early as 2021, so today’s announcement is a welcome step in preparing the UK for its use.

“We can be among the first to grasp the benefits of this road safety revolution.”

 

What’s the next step for the ALKS?

Safety is the biggest concern for any automated technology used in vehicles.

Later this year the government will launch a public consultation to review the safety evidence.

It’ll also discuss any changes to legislation and the Highway Code.

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.”

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