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Department for Transport seeks industry views on autonomous vehicle technology

The government wants industry’s views on plans to use automation technology to take control of cars travelling at speeds of up to 70mph, keeping them safely in the lane on motorways

The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a consultation on the use of the Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS), which can take control of vehicles at low speeds.

The automation technology will allow drivers to “delegate the task of driving to the vehicle”, while driving at speeds of up to 70mph, by keeping the car in its lane and controlling its movements. However, the driver must be ready to resume driving when prompted by the car to do so.

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,” she said.

The ALKS Regulation was approved by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in June 2020, which means the technology could be available in cars from spring 2021.

The government is now seeking opinions from industry about proposed rules on using this system and how to safely introduce it within the current legal framework.

The government wants views on whether cars using the technology should be defined as an automated vehicle, which means the company providing the technology is responsible for safety, rather than the driver.

The government also plans on launching a full public consultation on the ALKS technology and self-driving cars later in 2020.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders CEO Mike Hawes said automated technologies for cars, “of which automated lane keeping is the latest, will be life-changing, making our journeys safer and smoother than ever before and 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, so we can be among the first to grasp the benefits of this road safety revolution,” he said.

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