Self-driving vehicles might use British motorways sooner than you expected

Self-driving vehicles might use British motorways sooner than you expected

The UK is considering allowing semi-autonomous vehicles using lane-keeping systems on motorways in 2021, according to a recently published government announcement. At the moment, the British administration is mapping the views from industry, whether vehicles using this technology should be legally defined as an automated vehicle, which would mean the technology provider would be responsible for the safety of the vehicle when the system is engaged, rather than the driver.

The British government has launched an inquiry investigating the Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) which is an automated system that can take over control of the vehicle at low speeds, keeping it in the lane on motorways. This technology is designed to enable drivers to delegate the task of driving to the vehicle. When activated, the system keeps the vehicle within its lane, controlling its movements for extended periods of time without the driver needing to do anything. The driver must be ready and able to resume driving control when prompted by the vehicle.

Now, the government is seeking views from industry on the role of the driver and proposed rules on the use of this system to introduce it safely in Great Britain, within the current legal framework. The so-called „call for evidence” process will ask whether vehicles using this technology should be legally defined as an automated vehicle, which would mean the technology provider would be responsible for the safety of the vehicle when the system is engaged, rather than the driver.

The call for evidence also seeks views on government proposals to allow the safe use of this system on British roads at speeds of up to 70mph.

According to the website of the British government, the technology is likely to be available in cars entering the UK market from spring 2021.

UK to spend £1m to prepare its motorways for self-driving vehicles

As we have previously reported, the Highways England has teamed up with Loughborough University to ensure Britain’s motorways can accommodate connected and autonomous vehicles (self-driving) vehicles. As part of the £1m research, the scientist will look at operations at roadworks, merging and diverging sections (across lanes and at junctions) and lane markings to understand the challenges connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) may face.

The project, named CAVIAR (Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Infrastructure Appraisal Readiness), is being carried out in partnership with a construction company, Galliford Try. CAVIAR was announced as a winner in Highways England’s innovation and air quality competition last year and awarded £1m from the government company’s innovation and modernisation designated fund.

Photo:West Midlands Police/ Flickr

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