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The UK will make ‘self-driving’ cars legal this year

Drivers will not be required to keep their hands on steering wheel all the time

The UK will make ‘self-driving’ cars legal this year
Ivan Mehta
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Ivan Mehta

Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh." Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh."

The UK is making self-driving partially legal in the spring, so you should have an easier time in the cockpit. But you shouldn’t think of watching a movie or playing games on your phones while driving just yet.

A report from BBC noted that the Department for Transport will allow autonomous driving modes that are limited to a single lane with a speed cap of 60km per hour (37mph). 

The government said that vehicles with automated lane-keeping systems (ALKS) will have to take a GB-type approval to be classified as self-driving cars. It added that the drivers won’t need to pay attention to the road or keep their hands on the steering wheel, but they should be alert.While that’s the official articulation, you’re better keeping your hands on the wheel at all times, even with ALKS engaged.

In case there’s a warning signal from the vehicle’s automated system, drivers should be able to take over the control within 10 seconds. 

Last May, the UK started working on a 300 km road to test self-driving vehicles in a public setting. The idea was to let a car drive through different areas such as urban, suburban, rural, motorway roads to try out different scenarios.

Later in August, it asked for industry consultation for vehicles with ALKS to form regulations. Now, the transport department has put out initial set of regulations.

Tesla’s autopilot system is one of the well-known ALKS features in the industry. Last year, a UK-based YouTuber was warned for using it as it was illegal at that time. But soon, that YouTuber, and many other will be able to use this system in the country.