Self-driving Vehicles Could Be on Our Roads Later This Year

The Department for Transport announced on 28th April 2021 road users could see self-driving vehicles on roads later this year. This news comes after the government set out how vehicles fitted with Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) technology could be legally defined as self-driving, but will be required to have GB type approval and there must be no evidence to challenge the vehicle’s ability to drive.

ALKS technology is designed for use in slow traffic on motorways and will enable a vehicle to drive itself in a single lane, while retaining the ability to safely return control to the driver with ease if required. ALKS technology will be limited to 37mph on motorways.

This technology could potentially improve road safety by minimising human error, which contributes to over 85% of accidents. The driver will be able to pass the controls over to the vehicle, which will continually monitor the speed of the vehicle and ensure a safe distance is maintained from other vehicles.

This new technology paves the way for future self-driving technology which could reduce urban congestion, emissions, and improve air quality in towns and cities across the UK. As just one example, traffic flow could be improved if traffic lights could communicate with vehicles.

This announcement comes as a consultation on the Highway Code rules is launched to make sure when this technology comes into use on UK roads it is safe for all road users. The consultation will conclude on 28 May 2021.