It may seem like a far-fetched dream of the future, but it has been reported that driverless cars may grace our roads as early as 2015, as the government has announced plans to start testing the vehicles on public roads by January 2015. Up until now, use of these vehicles has been restricted to private roads but Vince Cable is expected to announce changes to the Highway Code to allow for such vehicles to run on public roads as the government is keen for Britain to be a leader of driverless technology. The government is also awarding a town or city a £10m prize if it becomes a testing area for these autonomous vehicles.
The autonomous vehicles have already been tested on public roads in other countries, with Nissan testing the cars on public roads in Japan, and by 2017 the Swedish city of Gothenburg is to allow 1000 Volvo cars to take to the roads. Singapore and Germany have also been actively testing these vehicles on their public roads. However, Britain has adapted the driverless car to some extent. The British Army uses autonomous cars that are provided by automotive design specialist MIRA and researchers at Oxford have developed a driverless car that can be controlled using an iPad.
However, a vast number of the British public are wary of the introduction of driverless cars, with 43% stating that they did not think legislation should be amended to even allow the trialling of these cars on public roads and 65% stating that they enjoy driving too much to consider buying a driverless car. There have been concerns of the safety of the cars and whether they’d be able to detect the layouts of the roads or whether humans would be able to intervene in the event of a computer failure. Those who seem most in favour of driverless cars are those between the ages of 25 – 34 and those least in favour are pensioners. Another aspect that has yet to be considered is how driverless cars will impact motor trade insurance claims, in case of a collision.
Would you use a driverless car to travel, or do you think it takes the fun out of driving?
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