The sight of cars driving down motorways without hands at the wheel could soon be a reality, after the government announced a consultation into hands-free technology.
A call for evidence into Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS) has been issued by the Department for Transport (DfT), to see if
ALKS can control the movement of vehicles at low speeds, and keep them in lane for extended periods of time until the driver is prompted to take control.
The DfT said that it could be given the go ahead for speeds of up to 70mph, making long stretches of tedious road more manageable for drivers.
It is thought ALKS and similar systems could prevent 47,000 serious accidents and save almost 4,000 lives over the next decade, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), of which the UK is a member, has already approved the technology, and could be available by next spring.
The consultation will aim to hear from the British motoring industry to see how the technology can be safely put in place, and work out whether the driver, or the provider of the technology, would be responsible for safety while the system is in use.
The call for evidence closes on 27 October this year.
Rachel Maclean, transport minister, said: "Automated technology could make driving safer, smoother and easier for motorists and the UK should be the first country to see these benefits, attracting manufacturers to develop and test new technologies.
"The UK's work in this area is world leading and the results from this call for evidence could be a significant step forward for this exciting technology."
Edmund King, AA president, said: "Over the last 50 years, leading-edge in-car technology from seat belts to airbags and ABS has helped to save thousands of lives.
"The Government is right to be consulting on the latest collision-avoidance system which has the potential to make our roads even safer in the future."