Most of us are aware that developments with driverless or ‘autonomous’ cars are underway, and Google is leading the way, trialling these in the USA.
Modern cars from many manufacturers are already full of technology, including accident-prevention systems such as active city stop, automatically applying the brakes at low speeds if an imminent collision is detected.
The main issue with introducing driverless cars is legislation – who is to blame if an accident occurs? Certain states in America have modified the law to allow driverless cars, but we would need something similar over here before these became viable.
The other issue is reliance on technology – what systems would be in place to prevent an accident in the case of system malfunction, or an unusual situation on the road that had not been encountered before? And would a sudden stop of a driverless car be anticipated correctly by other road users?
Perhaps these cars will become more appealing to the mass market once there are enough of them. The main factor in accidents and near misses is of course the person behind the wheel, but if enough driverless cars are on the road, operating to the same ‘safety distances’ as well as speed limits and stopping times then this can only improve confidence, both among the occupants of these cars, and other road users.
Volvo is aiming for the crash-free car by 2020 with its ‘2020 Vision’ programme. This is all about combining a number of safety systems to ensure no injuries or fatalities involving Volvo cars by 2020.
How long do you think it will be before driverless cars are a feature on British roads? Who will be the early adopters? Most likely the younger generation who would see driverless cars as a natural development to the pervasive advance of technology in other areas of life.
No doubt adoption will be slow from those of us who enjoy driving, although it is easy to see the benefit of a driverless car for routine journeys such as commuting, particularly if that can help prevent some of the accidents that slow us all down in the winter months when conditions are bad.