We highlighted in our September blog that the Government had launched a consultation on Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS), a new technology said to improve the safety of drivers by taking control of a vehicle at low speeds (up to 37 miles an hour) and keeping it in lane.
The Government has confirmed this week that 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.”
Drivers still need to stay alert
Though there is no requirement for drivers to keep their hands on the wheel whilst driving, the automated driving system will require drivers to take control within 10 seconds of being alerted. Failure to do so will result in the vehicle automatically putting on its hazard lights to warn other motorists, slow down and eventually stop.
Road safety benefits of self-driving vehicles
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders have welcomed the new technology believing it could prevent over 47,000 serious accidents each year caused by human error. Their chief Executive Mike Hawes also believes that “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.”
Transport Minister Rachel Maclean comments that, “this is a major step for the safe use of self-driving vehicles in the UK, making future journeys greener, easier and more reliable.
Sustainable transport for the National Park
It’s the greener benefits of the technology that the Lake District National Park has determined as essential for the success of tourist travel in the area which currently contributes around a third of the National Park’s total carbon emissions.
They have introduced driverless PODs at their Brockhole Visitor Centre and are encouraging residents and visitors to have their say on driverless, electric travel to get around the National Park. The PODs use a mixture of sensors, radar and AI to navigate crowded areas and are one of a number of technologies being looked at by the Authority. If you’re keen to learn more you can see the PODs around Brockhole until May 31st with marshalls available to discuss the technology every Wednesday to Sunday.
It seems driverless cars and fully automated vehicles may not be so much ‘cars of the future’ anymore.