UK has become the first country in the world to regulate the use of self-driving cars at slow speeds on its motorways.
The first of such cars will possibly appear on public roads as soon as this year, reports Reuters.
The British transport ministry is currently working on updating the country’s highway code for the safe use of self-driving vehicle systems, starting with Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS).
ALKS uses sensors and software to keep cars within a lane, allowing them to accelerate and brake without driver input.
According to the UK government, the use of ALKS would be restricted to motorways, at speeds under 37 miles (60 km) per hour.
It forecasts that by 2035, around 40% of new UK cars could have self-driving capabilities, creating up to 38,000 new skilled jobs.
Talking about this development, Mike Hawes, CEO of car industry lobby group the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said that the automotive industry welcomes this vital step to permit the use of automated vehicles on UK roads, which will put Britain in the vanguard of road safety and automotive technology.
But not all have warmed up to the UK Government’s idea of being the first to adopt self-driving cars.
Insurance companies for instance warn that this could all backfire unless automakers and regulators spell out the current limitations of the technology available today.
They say calling ALKS ‘automated,’ or using the synonymous term ‘self-driving’, will confuse British drivers into thinking the cars can drive themselves, causing accidents and risking a public backlash against the technology.
“Aside from the lack of technical capabilities, by calling ALKS automated our concern also is that the UK Government is contributing to the confusion and frequent misuse of assisted driving systems that have unfortunately already led to many tragic deaths,” says Matthew Avery, research director at Thatcham Research, which has tested ALKS systems.
Image and content: AP-VOA/Reuters