Back in October, a driverless car was unleashed among the unsuspecting public in Milton Keynes. It may have been driving at a less than stately 0.6 miles an hour around the local station but it was an important moment. The automatic car is on the way and we could be seeing more of these kinds of vehicles on the road within the next ten years.
The Government is currently running a consultation to explore what regulations need to be in place if the first real autonomous car is to take to the main roads by 2020. There is plenty to consider, not least the changes to infrastructure that need to be put in place to ensure our ride to work is safe and secure.
What are Driverless Cars?
These are essentially robotic vehicles that can drive without the aid of a driver. Big tech companies such as Google, as well as Ford and Volkswagen, have been developing the technology and soon you may be able to sit back in comfort and let your car do all the work. These vehicles have numerous sensors and radar equipment combined with artificial intelligence to help navigate the road and avoid collisions. We already have automated tech in new cars, of course – everything from automatic braking to parking assist.
Are They Safe?
Advocates of driverless technology say these cars will help reduce the number of accidents on our roads. Google, currently testing their own models, point to the fact that they have driven over 1.5 million miles with just 18 minor accidents during that time. While there are still issues to be overcome with cars on our main roads, the potential for reducing insurance costs could be huge.
The Government is currently putting a sizeable amount of money into this area. The technology and infrastructure is key to allowing these cars to perform safely and the UK is keen to be at the forefront of the development. There’s still a lot to do, however. Testing on Britain’s main roads will need to be done and areas where driverless cars can operate phased in. This will probably be tried out in our cities first but there is also one big problem the cars are going to face.
Driving Lessons in Manchester
Almost half of people asked said they wouldn’t want to drive in driverless car and manufacturers have a long way to go in convincing them and gaining trust. Another issue will undoubtedly be who is liable if a driverless car is involved in an accident and how we deal with roads that have a mix of automated vehicles and ones driven ‘normally’.
With companies like Volvo planning to rope in real people to test their driverless cars as early as next year and public transport pods being introduced in areas like Bristol and Coventry, it won’t be long before we start noticing these vehicles on our roads. While the tech might be in place quicker than we think, winning hearts and minds and sorting out the legislation is going to be an entirely different issue.
Like most disruptive technologies, it’s probably going to take a while for the driverless car to bed in. Many people like driving and don’t want to give up control to a machine, and if you want to learn to drive a car in Manchester you won’t find a better driving school than Freeway!
Perhaps in the future – for small, trips such as getting into the office, you may find sitting down and catching up on your emails preferable than to behind the wheel in a traffic jam? Who Knows…..