Hands-free driving could be on the horizon as Government consults on new tech

Hands-free driving could be a reality in the UK in less than a year after the Government announced a consultation on the groundbreaking technology.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has issued a call for evidence into Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) technology, which can take control of a vehicle at low speeds.

The system controls the car’s movements and can keep it in lane for extended periods of time, although the driver needs to be ready to take control when prompted by the vehicle itself.

It could be given the go ahead for speeds of up to 70mph, the DfT said, potentially making long stretches of tedious motorway driving a thing of the past.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, ALKS and other automated driving systems could prevent 47,000 serious accidents and save 3,900 lives in the next 10 years.

The technology has already been approved by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), of which the UK is a member, and could be available as early as next spring.

Now the Government wants to hear from voices within the motoring industry to decide how it could be safely implemented in the UK.

It will also look at whether ALKS-enabled cars should be classed as automated vehicles, if so the technology provider rather than the driver would be responsible for safety while the system is in use.

The consultation closes on October 27 this year.

Rachel Maclean, transport minister, 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.”

Edmund King, AA president, said: “Over the last 50 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.”