back to article Pass that Brit guy with the right-hand drive: UK looking into legalising automated lane-keeping systems by 2021

Self-driving vehicles have taken a modest step forward towards legality, with the UK's Department for Transport (DfT) launching a Call for Evidence that will determine the safety and efficacy of Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS) with an aim to legalise the technology by spring 2021. Unlike Tesla's Autopilot system, ALKS …

  1. DJV Silver badge

    Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS)

    I expect they will probably go through a system called WALKS first: Weaving Across Lanes Killing Scores.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS)

      The government is seeking to permit the technology on roads with speed limits up to 70mph (112kph).

      The Day Common Sense Died.

      1. not.known@this.address Silver badge

        Re: Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS)

        Do we still have any roads where you can legally and safely do 70mph?

    2. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS)

      We already have that.

      We call them drunks.

    3. hmv Silver badge

      Re: Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS)

      It's easy to be cynical, and I'm sure these automated driving systems are less safe than all the drivers here.

      On the other hand, that numpty who needs help plugging in their laptop to charge? They drive in every morning too. And every place has a whole Marketing department full of 'em.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS)

        I spend a lot of time on the roads, especially motorways. The vast majority of drivers are generally ok and the numbers who do stupid things is small but significant. The people I worry most about are people who have so much tech assisting their driving that they will not only be inattentive when a "situation" occurs, but will get less practice actually driving when the car is doing so much of it for them. The sort of people normally called "Sunday drivers".

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this the final triumph of the middle lane hogger ?

    I drove about a thousand miles on UK motorways last week and, excluding roadworks, I dont remember being in the same lane for more than 10 minutes at a time (more like 5 minutes most of the way).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: Is this the final triumph of the middle lane hogger ?

      Nah. It is the black audi with the right indicator permanatly switched on that sits in lane 3 (or 4 or 5) even if the rest of the motorway is empty. 70mph? try 100mph. That seems to be the normal speed for these dorks unless they are in a section with Average speed Cameras. Then they'll do the trick of hiding in the blind spot by the side of HGV's to evade detection.

      If these drivers come up behind another vehicle doing 70mph, they will undertake at the drop of a hat.

      This used to be the preserve of BMW 3 Series drivers but they seem to have moved to Audi A3's/A4's.

      1. Spacedinvader

        Re: re: Is this the final triumph of the middle lane hogger ?

        Was in ASC (A9) the other day, doing 70-80 and having cars overtake, cameras face oncoming, bike has no plate on front...

        1. Martin-73 Silver badge

          Re: re: Is this the final triumph of the middle lane hogger ?

          I frequently find myself HAVING to undertake lately (in a 23 yr old corsa with no rear window, to add insult to injury) because apparently '50mph average speed check' on the M27 means 'i can pootle at an indicated 45 in any of the 3 lanes' to people with Range rover Evoques... (by the way, that's the absolute ugliest car on the road, looks like the hulk sat on the rear end of it!)

          1. tiggity Silver badge

            Re: re: Is this the final triumph of the middle lane hogger ?

            To be fair speedos misread (and over estimate speed) so driver could think they were doing 50 not 45

            Mine over estimates by approx 7 MPH at motorway speeds - based on comparing speed via GPS calculation vs speedo and so I typically if in a 50 camera zone, will be doing > 50 on speedo, but < 50 on GPS as not fully trusting GPS to the exact MPH

            Plus if you dont have cruise control you tend to err on the slower side

          2. /\/\j17

            Re: re: Is this the final triumph of the middle lane hogger ?

            "Range rover Evoques... (by the way, that's the absolute ugliest car on the road, looks like the hulk sat on the rear end of it!)"

            Naa, the ugliest car on the road is still the Porsche Panamera, with the individual crown going to one in shit brown with gold metalic flakes.

            The Evoque is up there, but the standard Evoque is actually quite pretty...next to the convertable version!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: re: Is this the final triumph of the middle lane hogger ?

              nah its the Bently SUV thing the Bentayga saw one last week now that is fugly!

          3. Adelio

            Re: re: Is this the final triumph of the middle lane hogger ?

            I not sure that the rangerovers are the ugiest cars on the road. almost all JEEPS are hideous!

            1. JeffB

              Re: re: Is this the final triumph of the middle lane hogger ?

              Nah!! All new BMWs with those hideously huge grilles...

              1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

                Re: re: Is this the final triumph of the middle lane hogger ?

                I vote for the Citröen C4 Cactus as being the ugliest.

                1. Martin Summers Silver badge

                  Re: re: Is this the final triumph of the middle lane hogger ?

                  "I vote for the Citröen C4 Cactus as being the ugliest."

                  I raise you with the Nissan Juke.

                  1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

                    Re: re: Is this the final triumph of the middle lane hogger ?

                    I see what you mean, but there's something weirdly compelling about it. I do hate the design of most French cars, though, so I may be biased.

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: re: Is this the final triumph of the middle lane hogger ?

                    I'll see your Juke and raise you the Maserati Levante. A grille like a manta ray with a steel brace.

                2. Giles C Bronze badge

                  Re: re: Is this the final triumph of the middle lane hogger ?

                  First generation fiat multipla

                  That was an ugly car

                  1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

                    Re: re: Is this the final triumph of the middle lane hogger ?

                    Okay, I concede defeat. I'd forgotten about that – it is one ugly fscker. It's like the car version of a double chin.

              2. DiViDeD Silver badge

                Re: re: Is this the final triumph of the middle lane hogger ?

                Nah. If you want truly, hideously fugly grilles, the Lexus RX350 still wears the crown

                1. Giles C Bronze badge

                  Re: re: Is this the final triumph of the middle lane hogger ?

                  Bit late but Ssangyong Rodius outdoes a Multipla

      2. Jedit

        "This used to be the preserve of BMW 3 Series drivers"

        One explanation I have heard for this is that Audis have taken over from BMWs as the most popular company cars in the mid-level executive bracket. So you always had a whole bunch of people who want to look more flash than they are, in brand new cars that can do 100mph, and that they're not liable for repairs on. Now they just come from a different manufacturer.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Modelling consistently shows that staying in land and reducing maximum speeds reduces congestion and accidents while boosting average speeds.

      Of course, this flies against how many of us experience the situation, especially with an almost innate desire to get ahead of anything in front of us. And, an obstacle once passed is considered permanently removed. I'd argue that this is good example of cognitive bias and how difficult it can be to overcome. This is especially true when it comes to roadworks where I believe a majority of motorway RTAs occur.

      Personally, I'd start by getting manufacturers to reduce maximum vehicle speeds: if you know your car can't do more than whatever the speed limit is, you won't try it. Though this shouldn't necessarily be at the expense of acceleration. Then focussing on safe distances between vehicles, something which we routinely all undershoot, not least when some thwaite slips in in front of us.

      But it's a minefield. Not quite as bad as telling yanks that gun ownership should be restricted, but almost! ;-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It would help if people could maintain a speed rather than slowing down when going uphill and speeding up when going down.

        1. TwoSheds30619

          +1

          Luckily I have Cruise Control. Annoys the hell out of me doing a set speed and having to adjust for those who can't/won't keep to a constant speed.

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            As long as the distance between vehicles is constant, it shouldn't really matter. Of course, sat-nav based systems that know the gradients can optimise this.

          2. werdsmith Silver badge

            Modern cruise controls do the adjusting for you.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Personally, I'd start by getting manufacturers to reduce maximum vehicle speeds: "

        While there is no need for a car to go 120mph, there are times when you need a bit of extra speed to pass because that caravan is never going to pull over no matter how many people are stuck behind them. I have no idea where my car tops out, but it's far too fast. It's not made for 100+mph and the handling gets a bit too dicey when I get close to the century mark. A bit of gravel, a wet patch and I might wind up in the trees across the opposite lanes which would mean getting to my destination a bit late or to my "final" destination a bit earlier than I'd like.

      3. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: Modelling

        staying in land and reducing maximum speeds reduces congestion and accidents while boosting average speeds

        Doesn't seem to work in Arsetrailer, where everyone drives in the middle lane at between 90 and 100 kmh (unless it's uphill, of course, where apparently tradition dictates that you drop to around 50-60), while the more adventurous drivers use lane 3 where they can match pace with the middle lane.

        I normally stick to lane 1, where you can be almost guaranteed a smooth run at any speed you wish, because Australian drivers regard it as against nature to drive in it.

  3. S4qFBxkFFg

    "The government is seeking to permit the technology on roads with speed limits up to 70mph (112kph)."

    Er - isn't that all of them? (Unless it's "Up to (but not including) 70mph".)

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      out here in S. California, when the sign says 70Mph, nearly everyone goes 85...

      1. LeahroyNake Silver badge

        It's the same in the UK. Unless you have to drive through a 50 zone (with average speed ANPR) that had been a 70 for 10 years because emissions. Seriously, I thought cars were more efficient now.

        1. Martin-73 Silver badge

          To be honest, i find the Average speed zones to be CLEARER than 'open motorway' (in peak times at least)

          Off peak, 50mph feels like crawling

        2. Glen 1 Silver badge

          I thought the point of those was to slow you down slightly so by the time you got to where the traffic jam *was*, it had (hopefully) cleared.

          IIRC, Cameron wanted to *raise* the speed limit on motorways.

          1. PM from Hell
            Happy

            I've found the variable speed limits seem to work very well on the M42. I'm far happier sat at 50 on cruise control than the old days when it traffic would speed up for a mile before coming to a grinding halt at the next junction. peak traffic flow feels better and its certainly a damn sight less stressful, especially when you can see the guy behind blithely coming at yo at 709 as you are braking at the back of a queue.

            I do hare the sections where there is no hard shoulder though. the idea of sitting there in a live lane hoping that the camera operator sees you is terrifying

  4. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Devil

    some caveats with this...

    Out here in S. California, many freeways have been expanded and re-routed over the years, such that there are curves in the road where the lines between lanes don't follow the lines between sections of concrete. In those places, drivers sometimes drift towards the next lane because the extra lines in the road (dark lines between concrete) distract you, especially if you're tired or changing the radio station. Or on your phone...

    If a lane-keeping system can distinguish between the white dashed lines between lanes, and the dark expansion material between concrete slabs, this is a good thing. But I suspect that robotic systems are MORE likely to be fooled by something that regularly distracts otherwise-attentive drivers.

    I'm starting to think that the best solution might be to use special magnetic and/or IR reflective paint for lines between lanes, to ASSIST such technologies. I think this has been proposed before, and it adds to infrastructure costs. Lane-keeping systems would have to work without this, but if they DO have it, safety would be improved. Couple that with existing 'emergency braking' systems and it might stop a lot of accidents.

    /me regularly uses cruise control in light to medium traffic. I think everyone else is doing this, too, as it tends to maintain close to the same speed over reasonably long distances. So 'lane control' would go with it. if I hate it I can always shut it off.

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: some caveats with this...

      Round here (southern UK) our local motorway is being upgraded to 'smart motorway' (variable speed limits with cameras checking traffic...smart... and no hard shoulder... dumb)

      During construction work (3 yrs estimated, covid may or may not have changed that) the frequent need for lanes to change... has made the road a MASS of random lines. The road is blacktop (asphalt concrete to give it the technical name)... but well worn. The solution to black out white lines is to spray with asphalt. Sounds sensible. But when the sun hits JUST SO, it renders ALL the lines the same... i grip the wheel hard at that point and concentrate like hell.

      I am unfortunate that I live west of my workplace, and the road runs e/w. So the sun is at the JUST SO angle 2 times a day. The 2 times i'm driving... D'oh

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: some caveats with this...

        "I am unfortunate that I live west of my workplace, and the road runs e/w. So the sun is at the JUST SO angle 2 times a day. The 2 times i'm driving... D'oh"

        There's an uphill section of the A1(M) southbound in County Durham which at about 8am at just the "right" time of year means the sun is on the brow of the hill in the middle of rush hour. It's even more fun when the road is wet and adding to the glare with reflections. Rear-end shunts are not uncommon because about the only option is to lower the sun visor so far that all you can see is the car in front and keep your distance. Sadly, being part of the Edinburgh/London route means there many "strangers" on the road, not just the regular commuters. People who don't know the road get taken by surprise doing 70mph into the back of the slower moving traffic who KNOW they are about to be blinded by the light.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: some caveats with this...

        "But when the sun hits JUST SO, it renders ALL the lines the same... i grip the wheel hard at that point and concentrate like hell."

        You beat me to it. Add a bit of wet and other lines that have been sandblasted off and the whole motorway starts looking like 2' wide lanes. I'll just follow a lorry if I have to. Being higher up, it's easier for them to see the proper lane markings. I'm much less in a hurry these days and drafting save petrol.

    2. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: some caveats with this...

      Two words: Active Cats-Eyes.

      OK three words.

      RFID-enabled lane-keeping assist tech embedded in the road.

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: some caveats with this...

      You can use your cruise control in any traffic now because modern ones have the follow function that does the braking for you as well as the driving.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: some caveats with this...

        "You can use your cruise control in any traffic now because modern ones have the follow function that does the braking for you as well as the driving."

        If you have a car with adaptive CC fitted. Not usually an option if you don't want the sunroof and luxury package.

  5. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    Just what they want.

    'most car journeys in 2021 would be in driverless cars, heralding the end of private car ownership'

    Then home ownership, it's what the government want after all.

    I'm not sitting in someone else grotty cab and am lucky enough to be a home owner. Hope I can pass something on to the kids.

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: Just what they want.

      Indeed, as a tradesman I think most taxi drivers or Uber people, would take umbrage at [pauses to count] 8 toolboxes, and associated materials being humped (oo matron) into their car.

      Plus I listen to slade at obscene volume levels

    2. Glen 1 Silver badge

      Re: Just what they want.

      "end of private car ownership"

      Nah. People enjoy driving (sometimes). Being able to set it to auto for the boring bits is useful, but being at the mercy of taxis will not fly for commutes (imagine the cost alone). Besides, the eventually mandated auto-drive will be driving *safely* and *legally*. Judging by the current state of motoring, that would be unacceptable to many.

      "Then home ownership, it's what the government want after all."

      The gov *wants* private home ownership. As in, they want private companies/their mates to own *your* home. The government (or local council) owning houses (eg for homeless and unemployed or otherwise disadvantaged) is *socialism*.

      <sarcasm>We can't have that. Can we?</sarcasm>

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Just what they want.

        "Besides, the eventually mandated auto-drive will be driving *safely* and *legally*. Judging by the current state of motoring, that would be unacceptable to many."

        If we ever reach the stage where the majority of vehicles are self-driving and someone decides to ban manual cars from the roads, maybe initially from motorways, I could see the speeds significantly increasing because all the cars will be tracking the the others around them. No reason why they can't do 100mph+ at 5 or less metre seperation, only needing to slow on the exit slip roads.

        Don't get me wrong here, I LIKE driving most of the time. Except those weeks when I've hit one too many traffic jams or the jobs add up to 1500+ miles in a single week! Those are the time I long for the chance to have kip while the car does it's thing down the motorway :-)

      2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: Just what they want.

        A very good book on the importance of driving has recently been published: "Why we Drive" by Matthew Crawford - https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/matthew-b-crawford/why-we-drive/

        It is well worth a read because of the view it has of driving as one of the last activities that requires physical and mental skill to perform, with significant rewards and risks (which are important to actually live.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Just what they want.

      'most car journeys in 2021 would be in driverless cars, heralding the end of private car ownership'

      Not likely. Just have some kids and then see how much junk you have to haul around. Spare nappies, random toys, car seats. blah, blah. What do you do with all of that if you only have a car as a service? Some activities that you drop kids off to have fines if you pick them up late. Jonny's football coach doesn't want to hang about another 30 minutes while you wait for your ride to show up. The coach may also be reluctant to let them take an automated taxi on their own either. They won't want to be liable and what does a 7yo do if the car breaks down or gets stuck behind an accident somewhere?

      The utopian vision of all cars being hired on demand is not likely given the way we live now. Over the last 100 years, we've adapted our lifestyles and environment around private car ownership. Right at the moment many people are rethinking living in a dense city. Companies are finally starting to see that putting their whole staff in one big high rise is a bigger liability than benefit. Big cities are the one place where having a car as a service would make sense. It remains to be seen if big city living/working starts changing rapidly.

  6. DS999

    This has to be subject to rules for automation

    If it lets people take their hands off the steering wheel. Because unless it forces them to keep their hands off their steering wheel, people will take their hands off and therefore their eyes off.

    Even then, I'd be worried about some stupid and selfish drivers mounting a tablet on the dash and watching movies while their car drives them. With automatic braking it would handle simple stuff like traffic slowdowns or someone cutting in front of you, providing a false sense of security to the people doing that. Only when there's an accident happening in front of or around you would the folly of that become apparent.

    The amount of time it would take to realize you need to pay attention, look around and take in the situation, then decide what to do would be far too long for a human driver to react appropriately (except in the lucky cases where "do nothing" turns out to be the right action) Sometimes even if you are paying full attention you can't avoid an accident, but adding several seconds to the reaction time would make things far worse.

    Automation of cars is unfortunately tracking years ahead of regulations dealing with it, unfortunately addressing this will probably wait until enough people die that it can no longer be ignored.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: This has to be subject to rules for automation

      I was going to say the same thing. If a system technically allows you to stop focussing on driving, people will. To be "ready to take over when prompted. " doesn't just mean you can grab the wheel immediately - you also need to be already fully aware of the speed, road conditions, the traffic on your left, and right, in front, etc.

      The only way for that to occur is, basically, if you are driving! Therefore, any system that requires you to be ready to take over at a moments notice is only safe if it isn't being used!

      1. hoola Bronze badge

        Re: This has to be subject to rules for automation

        Some years ago an experiment was done on speed limiters. In the test a driver who regularly exceeded 70 had the limited fitted. The resulting loss of concentration was profound and the conclusion was that it was significantly more dangerous as there was nothing to keep the brain focused.

        Cruise control, particularly adaptive cruise is much the same and it can be an effort to remain concentrating on the environment around you.

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: it can be an effort to remain concentrating on the environment

          Maybe for you.

          I use regular old Cruise Control all the time, and have used Adaptive CC with joy when I have it available. Accident free so far. Last crash I had was a T-Bone when someone pulled out of a beer store at highway speed without looking for the rush-hour traffic that had right-of-way. That was in '88.

          I use CC on journeys from as short as a couple of miles to those exceeding 1500. A great way to avoid speeding tickets on urban roads, too.

          Perhaps it is more about whether one uses CC regularly, and how well the CC controls are integrated into the vehicle?

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: it can be an effort to remain concentrating on the environment

            "I use CC on journeys from as short as a couple of miles to those exceeding 1500. A great way to avoid speeding tickets on urban roads, too."

            For many people here in the UK, their first proper experience of an automatic gearbox will be when all cars are electric. Most cars bought here are manual gear sticks so CC is less useful other than on an open road. Pressing the clutch pedal to change gear will disengage CC.

            1. Stevie Silver badge

              Re: it can be an effort to remain concentrating on the environment

              Point.

              Of course, once you have driven a decently designed car with traction control you realize that for most urban purposes, a stick shift is a waste of time.

              My old Elantra would leave people with 4x4s stranded as it chewed its way out of any snow less deep than the radiator grill.

              It had another fault that meant I'll never buy another Hyundai, but bad weather traction wasn't one of them.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: This has to be subject to rules for automation

          I use bog standard CC all of the time. I wish I had adaptive for driving on the motorways around big cities. A big reason I use it is to maintain a steady speed. It's better for gas mileage and it keeps me from being a lead foot when a good song plays.

          Perhaps I'm biased as the traffic in my area is fairly light so I can go long stretches without needing to change speed. I do have to keep the car in the lane and keep a watch for road hazards. A good way to spot hazards is to notice what cars in the distance are doing. If I'm not having to steer, I'm not going to be paying attention up the road. That means that I won't see lots of people swerving due to something in the road that I can't see yet. There may also be a big slow down that I would have seen if I were paying attention and be prepared for.

          These days we push ourselves to be fully engaged all of the time. If we have any spare processing capacity, we automatically look to fill it up. That generally means reaching for an electronic device to fiddle with. Driving a car needs to keep our brains occupied well enough or not at all. Being somewhere in the middle is a recipe for the lead story on the evening news. The one with all of the blood and gore.

    2. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: This has to be subject to rules for automation

      "If it lets people take their hands off the steering wheel. Because unless it forces them to keep their hands off their steering wheel, people will take their hands off and therefore their eyes off."

      My Toyota Corolla has this feature. If you are not steering the wheel, it will give a visual alert after 10 seconds or so and will disengage after a few more seconds unless you turn the wheel even slightly. I probably couldn't visit the backseat in that time. :-)

      There are a couple settings for changing sensitivity and corrective steering but mostly I find the feature useless or not detecting the lane markings properly. Easily toggled on/off with a steering wheel button, fortunately.

      1. John Doe 12

        Re: This has to be subject to rules for automation

        A half full bottle of water wedged into the steering wheel will fix that "issue" and give you a poor mans Tesla for free :-D Never tried it myself but plenty of info and videos online about this trick.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: some stupid and selfish drivers

      I'm pretty sure this scheme will go ahead, and then, after a couple of nation-shocking accidents (a family of five killed, etc.), the media will make it into "killer robot cars road menace" story and the government will appoint a nameless spokesperson to issue a fart, something along the line that "we will review the legislation to limit such unfortunate incidents in the future".

      1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

        Re: some stupid and selfish drivers

        As it stands, an average of slightly more than five people are killed on the roads in GB every day, but nobody seems to bat an eyelid because it's just "normal".

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: some stupid and selfish drivers

          because it's just "normal".

          It's one of the lower values for the world's countries. Germany manages 9, France 10, US is up around 14 IIRC.

          1. ICL1900-G3

            Re: some stupid and selfish drivers

            Oh, well, that's all right then.

            1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

              Re: some stupid and selfish drivers

              Quite. Interesting statistics here, including the ability to sort by per-100,000 inhabitants. We do indeed do quite well, on the whole (2.9 per 100,000 inhabitants per year, 8th in the world), but that doesn't make it okay. A more useful statistic might be "per 1,000,000 person-miles/vehicle-miles travelled". In any case, I think we can all be grateful we don't live in India, which has an average of 819 deaths a day (22.6 phtipy). The crown apparently goes to Liberia, with 35.9 phtipy.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: some stupid and selfish drivers

              Oh, well, that's all right then.

              It's a considered risk. We could stop all such deaths by banning private cars, and/or putting a 5MPH speed limit on roads, but it would destroy the economy and have people up in arms about personal freedom. Instead we take sensible steps to minimize it, and recognise that risk is part of life.

            3. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

              Re: some stupid and selfish drivers

              @ICL1900-G3 - have you ever considered how many lives would be lost if we *didn't* have car ownership? It would be significantly higher.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: some stupid and selfish drivers

          "As it stands, an average of slightly more than five people are killed on the roads in GB every day, but nobody seems to bat an eyelid because it's just "normal"."

          That's because we know people are fallible. If we are going to hand out life and health to the machines, we need to have them as near 100% perfect as possible. The problem with computers is they are very stupid. They aren't creative and sometimes that's what's needed to avoid an accident or minimize the consequences. If you watch dashcam videos on YouTube, you will see truck tires flying off and impacting other cars on the motorway and all sorts of other mishaps. There will always be some risk when squishy humans go too fast for our own health. People die and are permanently disabled from bike crashes (not involving cars). People die from slipping in the bath. Would it be a good idea to have a human wash-o-matic that sometimes electrocutes users or would people rather continue in the belief they'll never fall down on a wet surface. I think they'll choose the latter until they are dead or disabled.

    4. David Hicklin

      Re: This has to be subject to rules for automation

      Automation of cars is unfortunately tracking years ahead of regulations dealing with it,

      I believe that the car manufacturers are all just wasting their time trying to make a car behave like a human driver.....but hopefully better. At the moment it is all a "me too" knee jerk reaction.

      The only way automatic driving will ever work is where the road is designed for it (sensor points, information transmitted to the cars) and each car talks to the other so that they all work together - then the driver can switch off and let it get on with it.

      Anything outside of that will need the driver to take over.

    5. JohnG Silver badge

      Re: This has to be subject to rules for automation

      Tesla has had warnings about drivers needing to be alert and ready to take control at any time but they have been forced to introduce checks that the driver is alert by requiring the drivers to "exert pressure on the steering wheel" at intervals. Amazingly, some drivers have deployed devices to defeat the alertness check.

      On a motorway or dual carriageway, these systems are fine, as long as they can "see" lane markings. If the car arrives to a point where the lane markings have worn away or when there is heavy rain/snow/slush, the lane keeping systems gives up and hands back control - the driver needs to takeover immediately.

  7. Richard Jones 1
    WTF?

    Lane Management Warning Systems Are Not Very Good

    I have turned mine off as our narrow country lanes have few proper lane markings but an array of different patches and the beeping is driving me nuts as the surface keeps changing.

    1. JohnG Silver badge

      Re: Lane Management Warning Systems Are Not Very Good

      At present, these systems are only intended for use on motorways and dual carriageways.

  8. a_builder

    I drive a Tesla and I don’t trust the lane keeping system at all. Regularly bins out on perfect road.

    The automatic braking is also more of a hazard than a help and you need to cover the accelerator just in case Elon decides you need an emergency stop because the car senses the surface is uneven.....

    The rest of the tech is brilliant, fast, quiet, distance sensing, regen braking.....overall good package.

    I just wish you could be more granular about switching off some of the sub systems.

    1. DS999

      Not a Tesla but my girlfriend's car has automatic emergency braking and it slammed on the brakes randomly once because there was a dead raccoon in the lane.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Before or after you passed it?

        1. Ragarath

          Please clarify, do you mean before or after it was dead or that the emergency braking system engaged before or after the Racoon?

          The incidents are not mutually exclusive. The Racoon may well have been alive and in front before the emergency braking activated.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            "Was it dead before or after you passed it?"

            That was the joke. And now it isn't because you made me explain it. There was a dead joke in the lane...

            I suppose one could argue that it wasn't exactly a random braking event if you could identify the cause.

        2. DS999

          It was dead before and after we passed it.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Spoke like a true programmer. Not even a Musk Jesus buggy could bring a dead critter back to life.

  9. tiggity Silver badge

    contraflows

    Will be fun if car trying to follow lane markings and driver inattentive

    .. and lets face it, what would a UK motorway journey be without lots of contraflows

  10. Long Time Gone

    Already here...kind of

    ...my current car with lane assist auto-steers up to 25mph for turns at an angle of +- 40% or so. Along with adaptive cruise control it has been a joy on motorway queues, especially the pesky roadworks around the M6/M5 junction.

  11. Mike 137 Silver badge

    A perfect recipe for failure

    "... allow the driver to fully delegate their driving to the vehicle itself – although they must be ready to take over when prompted"

    They never will be ready. Task switching (e.g. from dozily looking at the landscape or texting your mates to taking control of the car) takes many times as long as the reaction time of an attentive person concentrating on one thing at a time. You have to add that to the normal reaction time, so running into the side of a lorry blocking the highway is perfectly explained. As this is "lane keeping", which normally requires attention on busy high speed roads, there's going to be a huge rise in side swipes, and these can be fatal on freeways.

    The equivalent technology on planes (heading and altitude maintenance) works well because there's vastly more latitude in the air than on the freeway. Aloft, you have a minimum of several tens of seconds (typically much more) in which to react. On the freeway you have maybe five seconds (often much less).

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: A perfect recipe for failure

      "The equivalent technology on planes (heading and altitude maintenance) works well because there's vastly more latitude in the air than on the freeway"

      There are also controllers on the ground watching that you stay in your lane and TCAS onboard to keep an eye out for other planes. That's much easier to do in the air as the system doesn't have to filter for road signs, post boxes, etc. Aircraft are given a pretty big bubble so effects of wind and weather that shove the plane around don't mean there will be a chance of two planes colliding. Cars, on the other hand, need far greater spatial accuracy. A couple of feet can mean you are plowing down peds on the pavement rather than being in the roadway.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "responsible for the car's safety"

    ..."the technology provider?"

    And we really trust motor manufacturers, and the Government to hold them to account?

    Anyone remember the emissions control thing?

  13. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I think the article must have missed something out. I'm sure there'd be something in there about making the UK the world leading country for....

    It's a government statement; hubris is mandatory.

  14. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Terminator

    I wonder if

    this comes from the same prat who thought up 'smart motorways'

    The instant the lane following thing comes on, the 'driver' will instantly not pay attention to whatever is going on in front of him.. after all.. he doesn't have to

    Well thats ok... we'll include an automatic speed limter so that if the speed limit changes it will change the speed of the car... and now the 'driver' has his foot flat to the floor all the time

    And then said tech decides the burned down paint marking from yesterday's roadworks are the lines to follow.. on the plus side, the driver's body is still in the car, but sadly his head is imprinted in the truck the car just went under (along with the iPad the driver was watching at the time)

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