‘Self-driving’ cars to be given the green light by the end of this year

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Motorists could see ‘self-driving’ vehicles on UK motorways for the first time later this year – but only slowly, the government has announced.

The Department of Transport said automated lane-keeping systems (ALKS) would be the first type of hands-free driving legalised.

The technology is designed to control the speed at a maximum of 37mph and constantly monitors the car’s speed and distance from other cars. The new technology could improve road safety by reducing human error, which contributes to over 85% of accidents.

The government confirmed that drivers will not be required to monitor the road or keep their hands on the steering wheel when the vehicle is driving itself. But the driver will need to stay alert and be able to take over when required, such as when a traffic jam clears and traffic speeds up, within 10 seconds.

A fresh consultation on The Highway Code rules has been launched to ensure the first wave of this technology is used safely and responsibly.

Self-driving technology in cars, buses and delivery vehicles could spark the beginning of the end of urban congestion, with traffic lights and vehicles speaking to each other to keep traffic flowing, reducing emissions, and improving air quality in our towns and cities.

The UK is already a world leader in connected and self-driving vehicle innovation, and British companies are working on and developing the next generations of automated vehicles.