What is Lane Keeping or Lane Keep Assist?

Endless motorway driving can drive even the most attentive motorists to distraction. Unfortunately, even a moment of distraction can cause a serious accident if a driver drifts out of their lane and into oncoming traffic.

And that’s where a piece of autonomous technology called lane keeping comes in. These systems are designed to monitor a car’s position on the road and help return it to the lane if it detects the car drifting out.

In this car technology article, I’ll look at lane keeping tech in more detail, digging into the three different types and discussing whether they are a help or a hindrance for motorists. Let’s get started.

How does lane keeping work?

While we talk about lane keeping as one big piece of technology, there are actually three distinct types of lane keeping system.

First, you’ve got the basic lane keeping warning system. These systems use a pretty basic camera mounted on the front of your car to continuously watch the road and detect where the white lane divider lines are on the road. If it detects you drifting out of your lane, the system will play some sort of warning like a buzzer or a vibration in the wheel.

That’s the basic version of lane keeping. If you drift outside your lane, it alerts you but then it’s over to you to adjust your steering.

Second, you got lane assist systems. Initially, these systems work just like the basic warning systems. It uses a camera to detect your position on the road and warns you if drift outside the lines. However, with assist systems, the car will slightly influence the steering to nudge you away from the line and back into your lane. All you get is a nudge, though, and it’s the driver’s responsibility to recentre the car in the lane.

Third, you have lane centring assist technologies, which are the newest, fanciest and best versions of lane assist systems. Unlike the first two systems which only kick in when you drift towards the white line, lane centring systems are always on and constantly nudge the steering to keep you in the centre of your lane.

Is lane keeping technology safe?

Lane keeping is part of the ‘circle of safety’, which refers to the three most common and useful driver assists. You’ve got front safety tech (adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking), rear safety tech (blind spot detection) and side safety tech (lane keeping).

On its own, lane keeping tech provides really great assistance to drivers, helping alert them when they’re drifting off to one side.

However, even with the most advanced lane centring tech, it’s important to recognise its limitations. Lane keeping is not the same as autonomous driving and it won’t handle tight curves in the road or changing road conditions. All it is designed to do is keep you in your lane. Everything else is up to you.