May 25, 2021First Self-Driving Cars to be on UK Roads This Year
It may seem like something out of a science fiction movie, but self-driving cars have taken a step closer to becoming a reality with the government stating they will make their first journeys on UK roads later this year.
The Department of Transport has announced that the first-of-its-kind automated lane-keeping systems (ALKS) technology will be fully legal in late 2021, as the UK takes its first steps into the future of self-driving cars.
All cars that have this technology implemented will only be allowed to use it on motorways, in a straight line in a single lane and will have a maximum speed of 37 mph.
- In this article, we’ll outline everything you need to know about self-driving cars and how they’ll affect you.
How do self-driving cars work?
Autonomous self-driving cars utilise sensors, GPS technology, software and complex computer systems which study road layouts and navigate motorists to their destination. We’re not at this advanced stage yet, and some critics have claimed that describing the ALKS system as self-driving is a tad misleading.
Instead, drivers will still be required to be alert at all times and ready to take over at ten seconds notice – so there will be no reading a book or watching a film while you commute just yet.
The ALKS system is comparable to Tesla’s Autopilot technology which helps keep cars in the correct lane during a journey. This is classified as ‘level two’ of five levels of self-driving cars, with the next step up not needing constant attention from the driver.
Unsurprisingly the biggest concern for all road users will be how safe self-driving cars are. But while this may be the user’s biggest concern, in actual fact it’s also their biggest benefit.
It’s predicted that 85% of car accidents are down to human error. Self-driving cars eradicate this risk, preventing 47,000 accidents and saving almost 4,000 lives in the next decade.
As well as the safety aspect, many self-driving vehicles are electric cars- and therefore better for the environment. As many manufacturers place a focus on the sustainability of their operations, the likes of Tesla are leading the way when it comes to the innovation of self-driving vehicles meaning that electric cars are likely to be the benchmark in the industry long into the future.
What’s next for self-driving cars?
In the short term, not a great deal is going to change. It will likely take decades of development and millions of pounds worth of infrastructure before truly autonomous self-driving cars take to Britain’s roads. But, this is undoubtedly the first step towards the next generation of the automotive industry.