UK to regulate self-driving cars at slow speed

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LONDON, April 28 - The UK government on Wednesday became the first country to announce its intention to regulate the use of self-driving vehicles at public speeds on motorways, with the first such cars now likely appearing on slow roads as soon as this year.

The transport ministry of Britain said it was working on specific wording to update the country's highway code for the safe use of self-driving vehicle systems, starting with Automated Lane Keeping Systems - which use sensors and software to slow cars within a lane, allowing them to accelerate without driver input.

The government said if possible restrict the use of ALKS to roads at speed under 37 miles per hour.

The transport ministry wants to be at the forefront for rolling out new driving technologies and the UK government forecasts that by 2035 around 40% of new cars could have self-driving capabilities, creating up to 38,000 new jobs in the country.

The automotive industry welcomes this important step to ensure the use of automated vehicles on UK roads, which will put Britain in the vanguard of road safety and automotive technology, said Mike Hawes, CEO of the car industry lobby group the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders in a statement.

But insurance companies warn that Britain's goal of being a leader in adopting self-driving cars could backfire unless automakers and regulators spell out the current limitations of the technology available today.

They say calling the ALKS 'automated, or using the public term "self driving", will confuse British drivers into thinking that the cars can drive themselves, causing accidents and risking a synonymous backlash against the technology.

By calling ALKS automated, our concern also is that the UK government has contributed to the confusion and frequent misuse of assisted driving systems that have now led to many tragic deaths, said Matthew Avery, research director at Thatcham Research, which tested ALKS systems.

The risks of drivers misunderstanding the limitations of technology have been an issue in the United States, where regulators are reviewing about 20 crashes involving Tesla's driver assistance tools such as its Autopilot' system.What are some ways to think about what you are going to do?

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