May, 2021 - By WMR
This move is most likely to reduce serious accidents as their largest cause seems to be human error.
The Department of Transport of the United Kingdom announced that it is moving towards conditionally legalizing auto pilot cars where the need of paying attention on the road or keeping hands on the steering wheel is eliminated for the driver. The department expects this move to save many lives.
This is a contrast from what's legal now – level 2 driver assistance where drivers are supposed to have their gaze on road even when the vehicle is on autopilot. These new laws are set to be implemented near the end of 2021. With this, the U.K will come in line with policies of Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS), which are being enacted around some countries in Asia and the EU. This policy enables eyes-off, hands-off, and level 3 driving reaching speed up to 60 km/h. Level 3 driving is possible on roads where cyclists and pedestrians aren't permitted.
However, still the drivers will be needed to take over whenever the system requires. Ten seconds will be given to the driver to take control and workout whatever is going on in the surroundings, or else the car will put on the hazard lights and slowly come to halt
"Automated driving systems could prevent 47,000 serious accidents and save 3,900 lives over the next decade," says Chief Executive of SMMT, Mike Hawes, "through their ability to reduce the single largest cause of road accidents – human error."
It's unclear as to what liberties are the drivers able to receive once control is handed over. According to a report carried by DoT, 80% drivers would prefer the use of their mobile phones while the vehicle was on autopilot. However, it was noticed that activities such as smartphone use, which is visually high engaging, had a higher effect on the time taken by drivers for taking over the steering when prompted, as well as number of times a takeover event led them to go off course from the lane.