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Is the UK ready for self-steering cars?

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Following a consultation last year, the government has announced that vehicles with Automated Lane-Keeping Systems, ALKS, technology could be allowed on UK roads by the end of this year – the first type of hands-free driving to be legalised in the UK.

The technology controls the position and speed of a car in a single lane and it will be limited to 37mph. Drivers will not be required to monitor the road or keep their hands on the wheel when the vehicle is driving itself but the driver will need to be able take over when requested by the system within 10 seconds. If a driver fails to respond, the vehicle will automatically put on its hazard lights to warn nearby vehicles, slow down and eventually stop.

The technology could improve road safety by reducing human error, says the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, preventing 47,000 serious accidents and saving 3,900 lives over the next decade. “Technologies such as Automated Lane Keeping Systems will pave the way for higher levels of automation in future – and these advances will unleash Britain’s potential to be a world leader in the development and use of these technologies, creating essential jobs while ensuring our roads remain among the safest on the planet,” said SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes.

Steve Nash, CEO of the IMI, highlighted the ongoing training requirement for repairers following the announcement: “The IMI has already cited the serious deficit in technicians qualified to work on electric vehicles; currently we’re at just 5%. A skilled workforce for vehicles featuring Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) is better populated – but it’s still an area of concern as a whole. And the reality is this currently presents a much bigger risk for road users than electric vehicles.”

“Connected and autonomous technologies are crucial to advancing the safety and performance of vehicles for all road users. But it will only work if it is accurately calibrated at all times and whilst ADAS technology is certified at manufacture, we firmly believe there is room for improvement to ensure that automotive technicians repairing vehicles fully understand ADAS technology so that all systems are precisely and accurately calibrated before a vehicle goes back on the road.”

The IMI’s TechSafe standard has been developed to ensure technicians are appropriately qualified to work on vehicles involving ADAS as well as electrified vehicles. You can find out more at: https://tide.theimi.org.uk

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