Autonomous driving technology will soon be available on the roads. Industry and car makers have developed new guidelines in order to make sure that drivers are marketed responsibly and accurately.

Motorists on motorways are expected to be legalized to use the most recent models of Automated Lane Keeping Systems, (ALKS), starting in spring 2022.

ALKS allow you to have complete control over your car’s steering, changing lanes and other functions.

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has published guiding principles that will help motorists determine if and how they can safely use various technology and their capabilities.

With hands-free automated driving set to be legalised on UK motorways next year, new guidelines have been drawn up to ensure car makers are advertising technology correctly

New guidelines were created to make sure car manufacturers are correctly advertising the technology, as hands-free autonomous driving is set to become legal on UK roads next year. 

The new guidelines were developed and approved by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and road safety groups.

These industry-led guidelines will make sure consumers have ‘consistent, clear information’ about the differences between “automated” and “assisted” driving functions. The latter requires drivers to always keep their hands on that steering wheel.

After Tesla’s ineptness about naming the various features that are available on its electric cars (Autopilot, and then more recently, Full Self-Driving), these guidelines have been issued.

The brand was criticized by US road safety officials earlier in the year. They claimed that the technology doesn’t deliver fully autonomous driving experience and requires drivers to monitor 100 percent of its use.  

Head of the National Transportation Safety Board, Jennifer Homendy, told  The Wall Street Journal in September that the use of the Full Self-Driving name is ‘misleading and irresponsible’, especially because consumers pay more attention to marketing than warnings in an owner’s manual or on a manufacturer’s website.

She stated that Tesla’s marketing “has clearly misled many people to misuse technology” and cautioned Tesla not to roll out a city-driving function, which was recently revealed by Elon Musk. This is before Tesla addresses safety concerns.

Drivers of cars fitted with 'Automated Lane Keeping Systems' (ALKS) from next year are expected to be legally allowed to use them on motorways and take their hands off the wheel

From next year, drivers of vehicles equipped with ‘Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS), will be legal allowed to drive on motorways using them. 

The SMMT announced Monday five rules that will be used by vehicle manufacturers in Britain to avoid confusion.

This requires that automated driving features be sufficiently described to avoid misleading, and also the context in which each feature may function.

Automated driving features must be clearly described so they can be distinguished from assisted driving features and vice versa. 

Guidelines state that both assisted and automated driving must be described clearly. 

The principles of assisted or automated driving must not be misled by the name. It must clearly state the purpose. 

The motor industry has drawn up five new rules around the naming and descriptions of different technology so drivers know the difference between 'automated' and 'assisted'

Motor industry created five new standards for naming and decribing technology to help motorists distinguish between automated and assisted. 

Since August 2012, MPs had been considering legalizing the use ALKS on British motorways. The move is scheduled to take place in 2022.

ALKS can be classified as Level 3 autonomy. They are capable of taking control of vehicles and keeping them in their lane, so that the driver does not need any input.

Drivers can now use technology, such as lane-assist systems in the UK. However they are required to remain focused on driving and be aware of their surroundings – according to Level 2.

Level 3 indicates that the driver isn’t driving when automated systems engage, but can take the reins at any moment and be asked to do so. 

Currently, the highest level of vehicle autonomy being used on UK roads is Tesla's Autopilot, which is classified as Level 2

Tesla’s Autopilot is currently the UK’s highest-level vehicle autonomy. It is Level 2.

Automated Lane Keep Systems will be the first instance of Level 3 vehicle autonomy in the UK

Automated Lane Keep Systems (ALKS) will mark the beginning of Level 3 vehicle autonomy within the UK

Mike Hawes (SMMT Chief Executive) says technology has a ‘tremendous capacity to save people’. But rules are needed to make sure consumers aren’t misinformed about cars’ self-driving abilities. 

Hawes stated that ‘it is crucial that this new technology be marketed accurately, responsibly and that we are pleased to have brought together government, industry and other key stakeholders in order to create a series of principles that will help consumers have confidence and clarity over their capabilities starting when they first hit the showrooms.

Trudy Harrison, Transport Minister, stated that self-driving vehicles offer the possibility of safer and greener journeys for everyone.

‘It is essential that industry and stakeholders are clear on their responsibilities and developed in partnership with Government, motoring and road safety groups, the SMMT’s Guiding Principles are an important step to promote the safe use of automated technologies in the UK,’ she said.

Thatcham Research in Britain, vehicle safety specialists has been calling for guidance to be established before ALKS are introduced on roads. This is in response to the fact that previous plans by the Government were “undercooked” and technology was misleading drivers.

What are ALKS? How do they work? 

This technology, known as Automated Lane Keeping System (ALS), would make it the most advanced vehicle automation currently available on UK roads. 

ALKS is activated and maintains the vehicle’s lane. This allows the ALKS to control the vehicle for longer periods of time, without the driver having to take any action. 

The driver should be able and ready to assume control of the vehicle’s driving again within seconds.

Different manufacturers all have their own systems, but generally it involves  a forward-looking camera, usually behind the windshield, laser sensors, infrared sensors and radar sensors to detect if you’re unintentionally drifting out of lane.

The sensors can detect if the vehicle is in a lane departure and apply brakes to either side to adjust the vehicle’s position on the road.

Some systems may use subtle steering intervention, rather than subtle brakes. 

ALKS has been designated as an UN Economic Commission for Europe Level 3 system.

This is the meaning of that the person at the wheel is not driving when the automated systems are engaged, but can step in at any time and must take over at the system’s request.

A Level 3 system allows the user to watch movies or send text messages, however they must remain alert to all that is going on around them.

Self-driving cars can go through five levels of autonomy, Level 5 being total autonomy.

It is very similar to Tesla’s Autopilot technology, but the US company has only Level 2. This means that drivers must pay attention to traffic.

Lane Keeping Assist, a feature that has been in cars since the beginning of the last decade, is also considered to be Level 1. It only warns drivers that the car is veering off their lane. The driver must then steer the vehicle.

Matthew Avery (research director) stated last year that the Government’s timeline proposed for automated technology introduction must be changed. It is simply not safe enough. The introduction of automated technology will place the safety and well-being of motorists in the UK at serious risk.

The principles were published this week by the author. He said it was a milestone in clarifying the abilities and responsibilities of future assisted driving systems. 

Avery stated, “We’ve always advocated consistent terminology.” 

‘There are two clear states – a vehicle is either assisted with a driver being supported by technology or automated where the technology is effectively and safely replacing the driver. 

“We encourage manufacturers to now use simple marketing that doesn’t over promise functionality. The key to this is to deliver them consistently across all marketing materials, and through dealership education as well as their subsequent conversations with customers. 

Jim Holder is the editorial director of What Car?. He says that the terminology used to describe automated driving technology has been controversial for many years. Some buyers have been led to believe that the technology can do more than it intended.

This is a huge issue. Courts in Germany and other countries have now banned advertising words like “Autopilot” so customers do not get confused or misunderstand its limitations.

He stated that ‘having a set of principles to protect UK customers was a welcome step and will ensure that manufacturers adhere to their language as well as the limits of technology within their vehicles. 

“The differences between driver assistance features and automated driver functions are significant, so many potential buyers don’t know what the limits of these technologies.

‘With developments in autonomous driving taking place at an increasingly rapid pace, it’s important manufacturers remain honest with buyers. 

“Autonomous vehicles will reduce road accidents but only when technology is completely developed and communicated clearly to buyers.


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