Driverless cars could be made legal on UK roads by 2021 as the Government calls for evidence on the safety of hands-free driving.
The Department of Transport is consulting on the use of Automated Lane-Keeping System (ALKS), issuing a call for new evidence into the safety of the technology.
Autonomous vehicles are widely considered to be the future. And as well as completely uprooting the transport sector, the technology will have far-reaching applications in a wide variety of workplaces.
The objective is to understand whether ALKS technology complies with the definition of automation under the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018. The act requires that the vehicle be capable of safely and lawfully driving itself without being controlled and without needing to be monitored, when in automated mode.
ALKS is vehicle technology designed to control the lateral, left and right, and longitudinal, forward and back, movement of the vehicle for an extended period without further driver command. During such times, the system is in primary control of the vehicle, and performs the driving task instead of the driver, at low speeds on motorways.
Last year the Department of Transport updated its guidance for testing autonomous vehicles and set in motion plans to make driverless cars legal by 2021. At the time concerns were raised over whether this timeframe was realistic given the technical and legal hurdles.
Autonomous vehicle technology came under intense scrutiny in 2018, after a self-driving Uber vehicle failed to stop for a pedestrian, resulting in a fatality (see related article).
Consultations will include an overview of ALKS, ensuring the safe use of ALKS, questions around fair delegation and residual responsibility, and questions around the performance of other activities.
The responses to this call for evidence will inform policy development. A consultation is planned for late 2020 to discuss details of any proposed changes to secondary legislation and the Highway Code.
Comments can be made until October 27 via an online survey here.
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