Automated Lane-Keeping System (ALKS)
What Is an Automated Lane-Keeping System (ALKS)? The Centre for Connected & Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) offers the following description –
A system for low-speed application which is activated by the driver and which keeps the vehicle within its lane for travelling speeds of 60 kph or less by controlling the lateral and longitudinal movements of the vehicle for extended periods without the need for further driver input. Have a look at their summary of responses and next steps here.
The Department For Transport makes it a bit clearer, describing it as a ‘traffic jam chauffer’. Basically, the car is able to drive autonomously on motorways adapting its speed to the surrounding traffic and speed limit.
ALKS System Activation Conditions
Maximum Speed of 37 MPH
As of June 2020, the United Nations Economic Commission has only approved the use of ALKS (in its current form) for use up to 60 kph or (37 mph). This would be used in traffic jams and slow-moving motorway or duel carriageway traffic. However, The Department for Transport has launched a consultation document proposing the use of ALKS technology up to 70 MPH.
Below are some of the other conditions that must be followed for the system to operate safely.
- The driver must activate the system deliberately via an activation button.
- The driver must confirm they are available to take over if needed.
- That the data storage system for the automated driving time is operational.
- The driver must be in the driver’s seat with the seatbelt fastened.
- The ALKS system is fully operational without faults.
- The weather conditions and infrastructure allow for the safe operation of the ALKS.
- The vehicle must receive a positive system self-check confirmation.
- The vehicle must be on roads where pedestrians and cyclists are prohibited, and where there is a physical divider separating opposite flows of traffic e.g. motorway or duel carriageway.
Other safety measures will be in place to enable the system to continue. It can detect if the driver leaves their seat for more than a second or if the seatbelt is unfastened. In addition to these measures, the system also checks the driver every 30 seconds monitoring eye closures and blinking, conscious head movements, and use of other vehicle controls.
Automated Lane-Keeping System (ALKS), What Happens Now?
Although approved by the United Nations Economic Commission ALKS still has a few kinks that need to be ironed out before we see it rolled out this year. Many of the questions focus on education, safety, and legislation.
If a driving instructor’s car had the technology then our driving lessons in Guisborough and Driving Lessons Middlesbrough would focus on teaching learner drivers but what about everyone else already driving? There are also legal concerns. Who would be liable in the event of a collision. The driver or the manufacturer of the vehicle or system?
Another issue courting controversy is whether or not the driver is allowed to perform other activities when the ALKS system is activated or do they have to remain ready to take back control of the vehicle if needed.