Automated Parking Assist Coming Soon to UK Roads

New laws passed in the UK this week have paved the way to let drivers use remote-control parking on local roads.

The legislation is part of a drive by the government to ensure UK road laws are up-to-date in supporting the development and street presence of autonomous driving technology.

Current regulations stipulate drivers may not hold a mobile device while in their vehicle, but the proposed rule change would allow drivers to use a remote control parking device such as a smartphone.

The laws, which were introduced on May 16, will go into effect next month, when drivers will then be able to use remote-control parking on local roads.

Drivers will also be able to step outside the vehicle and command it to drive itself in or out of a parking space, as long as the driver is within 25 feet of the vehicle.

The UK’s Highway Code rules will also be changed to better regulate the use of remote parking, and other components of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) that can control certain aspects of driving, such as changing lanes.

“Advanced driver assistance systems are already starting to revolutionize driving,” Department for Transport (DfT) minister Jesse Norman noted in a statement. “It’s encouraging to see the strong support for these innovations from a range of stakeholders. We will continue to review our driving laws, in order to ensure drivers can enjoy the potential of these new tools safely.”

The laws were passed following the recommendations of a 19-page study prepared by the DfT and Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

In March 2017 the DfT designated the future of mobility as one of the UK’s four “grand challenges” and aims to see fully self-driving cars on UK roads by 2021.

“The announcement is just one step towards increasing automation but it is an important one enabling increased convenience especially for those with restricted mobility,” Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive Mike Hawes wrote in a statement. “It is another welcome commitment from government to keep the UK firmly at the forefront of connected and autonomous vehicle development and rollout.”

Hawes said connected and autonomous vehicles had the potential to transform people’s lives, possibly reducing up to 25,000 serious accidents over the next decade, as well as providing hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

The UK government also recently tasked the Law Commission with a detailed review of driving laws, along with planned updates to the code of practice to support automated driving technology as it develops and offer recommendations on potential use cases.

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