13 May 2021

Self-Driving Cars on UK Roads This Year?

‘Self-driving’ vehicles are set to become a feature on UK roads by the end of this year, according to Government officials.

Vehicles with automated lane-keeping systems would be the first to be legalised but will be limited to 37mph.

With these vehicles, the driver would not be required to monitor the road or keep in control of the wheel but should be able to regain control within 10 seconds of being instructed by the system navigating.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Chief Executive, Mike Hawes, believes this latest move could be hugely beneficial to road safety.

Telling the BBC, he said; “Automated driving systems could prevent 47,000 serious accidents and save 3,900 lives over the next decade through their ability to reduce the single largest cause of road accidents – human error.”

There are five levels of autonomous driving:

  • Level 0 – The driver is fully responsible for the vehicle’s speed and direction
  • Level 1 – The driver can let the vehicle take over the steering or acceleration system, with the vehicle’s system only able to do perform one of these tasks
  • Level 2 – The vehicle’s system will perform several driving tasks, but the driver must always be alert to taking over
  • Level 3 – The driver can, in certain situations, turn attention away from the road but must be ready to resume control. The system can autonomously drive
  • Level 4 – The driver can dedicate their time to other activities as the vehicle will assume complete control and perform all driving tasks
  • Level 5 – No driver is needed, and the vehicle can be controlled under any conditions by the driving system.

Although the UK is some way off having Level 5 autonomous vehicles driving on roads, there are already watered-down versions, with Tesla’s autopilot system changing lanes and adjusting a car’s speed without the need for input from the driver.

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