UK launches consultation on automated lane-keeping system

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The UK government has announced the launch of a call for evidence on an automated system capable of taking vehicle control to make driving safer and easier.

The consultation will look at the automated lane-keeping system (ALKS), which can take over control of the vehicle at low speeds, keeping it in lane on motorways.

The 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. However, the driver must be ready and able to resume driving control when prompted by the vehicle.

The government is seeking views from industry on the role of the driver and proposed rules on the use of this system to pave the way towards introducing it in Great Britain, within the current legal framework. The call for evidence 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.

Rachel Maclean, transport minister, 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.”

Following the approval of the ALKS Regulation in June 2020 by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe – of which the UK is a member – the technology could be available in cars entering the UK market from Spring 2021.

The government said it is acting now to ensure that regulation is ready where necessary for its introduction.

In late 2020, it plans to launch a public consultation on the detail of any changes to legislation and the Highway Code that are proposed, which will include a summary of responses to the call for evidence.