Britain Could Be First Country To Allow Automatic Lane Keeping Technology On Motorways
Even though the technology might be allowed on the motorway, it will only be permitted in stop-start traffic at speeds of up to 37 miles per hour, according to reports in the Sunday Times.
The Department for Transport has told insurance industry bosses about the proposals already, but it could be a bit before it is actually on the roads.
The Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) allows drivers to do other things while the car continues moving. It tracks the position of the car and speeds up and slows down according to where other cars are on the road.
According to the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is allowed to designate vehicles 'at least in some circumstances or situations capable of driving themselves'.
Among the first vehicles that might be granted this privilege are the new Tesla cars, as well as the Mercedes S-class that is set to arrive in then UK later this year.
However, there are some weaknesses of the technology that have been highlighted by the AA and Thatcham Research, the motor industry research body.
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For instance, the cars cannot change lanes to avoid trouble. Instead they slow down, bringing the car to a standstill.
That's not ideal on the motorway.
Sure, the technology makes the in-car entertainment go off automatically in emergency situations, but it will still take precious reaction time away from drivers who aren't fully concentrating on the road.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who is himself a Tesla owner, is keen for Britain to lead the way with this technology, having admitted he wants the UK to be 'the first country to see these benefits'.
Labour MP Lilian Greenwood, a member of the transport select committee, has expressed concerns about whether this technology is ready to take over just yet.
She said: "It simply isn't safe for drivers to ignore the road and do other things while the technology is unable to respond safely to the unexpected."
In a statement, the Department for Transport said: "We have sought views on the use of the automated lane-keeping system to pave the way towards introducing it safely on UK roads.
"No decision has yet been made on whether to allow ALKS to operate up to 70mph."
Featured Image Credit: PA
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