Whatever next? First, they put a man on the moon, then came the Internet and now, driverless cars could be on the UK’s public roads by next year!
Since the story broke, most of us have either commented on or thought about the concept and how it will or might not, work.
Of course, there are significant legal barriers which must be overcome before this can happen. However, once those hurdles have been negotiated, we should all brace ourselves for the latest innovation in the automobile industry.
Most people we have spoken to, within the engineering industry, including those who work here at PRV Engineering are broadly in favour of autonomous vehicles. Still, even those who would love to see driverless cars on the roads, have their concerns.
One of the main concerns over driverless cars is the liability issue. What happens if an autonomous vehicle is involved in an accident.? Who is liable?
Should there be somebody capable of taking control to be in the vehicle at all times? A recent article in the Engineer included a very pertinent question. If there is not an individual capable of taking control in the car, all the time, there would be nothing to stop a drunk person or even a child, getting into the car and pressing ‘go’. If there is, what state of readiness would that person have to be in? What if they nodded off on the motorway?
The overriding belief is that autonomous vehicles would make the roads safer. No boy racers, no stupid moves at high speed, just an autonomy system that would be programmed to comply with the Highway Code. Amen to that. After all, how many of us fear other drivers on the road? How many drivers are anxious behind the wheel because of the antics of others?
Japan and several US states already allow autonomous vehicles, and Gothenburg in Sweden is to allow a fleet of 1,000 autonomous Volvos on its roads by 2017. And with robotics seen as a key area of technological development for the UK, this certainly makes sense. But manufacturers will need clear guidelines for what they will and won’t be able to do – and other road users will need to be aware of the rules as well.
The Pros and Cons of Driverless Cars
Early tests on a fleet of self-driving Google cars proved that that the autonomous vehicle clocked-up more than 300,000 miles without an accident. If there’s a human at the wheel the average is 165,000 miles.
Do you get tired behind the wheel? You need never concern yourself about fatigue again. Just switch to “driverless mode” and continue with your trip.
No need to worry about breaking the law by making that all important phone call whilst you are driving to work. Sit back, relax and call whoever you like.
It’s commonly said that you only start to learn to drive properly once you’ve passed your driving test. Like any other skill, your driving ability will diminish the longer you go without using it.
When driverless cars become more commonplace it will be interesting to see if hours logged in “driverless mode” will be a consideration when you’re looking for an insurance quote!!
If you have any comments or thoughts on the issues surrounding the autonomous vehicle, why not post them in the box below?
Image Copyright: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo