UK government announces Automated Lane Keeping System Call for Evidence

Tuesday, August 18, 2020 - 09:55
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The UK is taking steps forward in automated technology in vehicles with the launch of a Call for Evidence today (Tuesday 18 August) to help shape how innovative new systems could be used in future on GB roads.

ALKSThe Call for Evidence will look at the Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) – an automated system which can take over control of the vehicle at low speeds, keeping it in lane on motorways.

This technology is designed to enable drivers – for the first time ever – 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. 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 safely 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.

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.”

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

The Government is acting now to ensure that regulation is ready where necessary for its introduction.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “Over the last fifty years leading edge in-car technology from seat belts to airbags and ABS has helped to save thousands of lives.

The Government is right to be consulting on the latest collision-avoidance system which has the potential to make our roads even safer in the future.”

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “Automated technologies for vehicles, 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.”

As automated technology in vehicles continues to improve, it must be used safely by drivers in the UK. By issuing a Call for Evidence we are giving those with information or concerns about ALKS technology an opportunity to help shape future policy.

In late 2020 we plan 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 this Call for Evidence.

Antony Edwards, COO at Eggplant, the intelligent automation specialist, said: “It is extremely important that this type of technology is constantly tested to detect errors and anomalies in the software.

Autonomous driving opens up new opportunities but also risks. Ensuring driver and vehicle safety will always be a top priority. But in-vehicle technology also presents the challenge to protect drivers’ personal data from getting into the wrong hands. Securing systems against hackers and effectively securing the systems against cyber attacks is another facet that needs to be addressed. 

But, in order for autonomous vehicles to be safely deployed and truly live up to their potential, manufacturers and other industry players must ensure that they have a modern testing solution to address the myriad new challenges that arise. Given the wide array of platforms and the intricacies of connectivity testing, this is no easy task. Multiple facets need to be tested including the platform itself, the autonomous vehicles’ ability to communicate with other nearby cars and infrastructure. 

Only with testing technology, something which is not often talked about, can we pave the road for continued innovation in the automotive sector and realise the promise of a connected future.

To truly test the entire autonomous vehicle experience, forward-thinking companies are exploring ways to apply Artificial Intelligence (AI) — not just to the self-driving capability but to the technology testing the in-vehicle systems.” 

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