Last week, the UK Government announced that driverless cars will be allowed on public roads from January 2015. UK cities can bid to host these trials, and up to three cities will be selected. Trials on public roads have already been held in Japan, Singapore and Germany, with Sweden about to follow suit. In California, driverless cars are already road legal, with Google’s self-driving cars already logging over 700,000 miles.
Business secretary Vince Cable said that the announcement will put “us at the forefront of this transformational technology and open up new opportunities for our economy and society”.
Leading UK law firm, Accident Advice Helpline said “Driverless cars may seem like a strange concept to some people but cars already have so many automatic devices such as cruise control, automatic braking, anti-lane drift and self- parking functions that it was only a matter of time before cars went completely autonomous”.
The computer-generated vehicles are guided by a system of sensors and cameras which will use GPS technology to locate other cars on an electronic map. The trials will last between 18 and 36 months and two types of testing will be reviewed for public roads; fully autonomous cars without a driver and some with a qualified driver who can take control at any time.
There are still mixed views about the proposition; with Transport Minister Claire Perry saying “driverless cars have huge potential to transform the UK’s transport network. They could improve safety, reduce congestion and lower emissions, particularly C02”. But motoring groups are the ones more sceptical about the move as AA president Edmund King said “Many drivers are still resistant to change as 65% enjoy driving too much to ever want the vehicle to take over from them” whilst the RAC said “We suspect it will be difficult for people to come to terms with giving up control of their vehicle to a computer”.
An Accident Advice Helpline spokesman said “Some people may feel like they are giving up control but this isn’t a bad thing. The idea that these driverless cars can be safer and reduce both congestion and emissions is surely enough of a positive to embrace”.
Researchers in Oxford have developed an autonomous car that can be controlled using an iPad and all of the major manufacturers including Audi, BMW, Nissan, Ford, Toyota and Mercedes- Benz are working towards their own production of driverless cars.
A spokesman for Accident Advice Helpline said “There are far too many accidents still happening on the roads so the idea of a driverless car to eliminate the prospect of human error is a welcome change. This proposal is a huge leap forward in technology and will hopefully help contribute to less accidents on the roads”.
Source: BBC News