Columnists give very different views of driverless futures

Two columns by motoring experts have painted very different views about the future of driverless vehicles, but both have questioned the concept of humans having control some of the time and the car the rest.

The two are reacting to news that some level of driverless technology will be permitted by the end of the year, as explained by expert Prof Nick Reed in the latest Highways Voices podcast.

“Maybe I’m a coward, control freak, lousy passenger, or all three, but nothing can prepare a committed driver like me for surreal, stressful rides in cars that do the starting, driving, hazard perception, crash avoidance, stopping (hopefully), and parking for you,” writes Auto Express‘s longest-serving journalist Mike Rutherford. He questions the demand for the technology saying, “It seems there is little that can stop such vehicles landing on public roads in the 2020s. We’re just not sure whether they’ll arrive in the early, mid, or latter part of this decade. Neither do we know if today’s motoring masses want or need to travel aboard expensive self-driving machines of tomorrow. Probably not, would be my guess.”

However Matt Rudd in the Sunday Times calls for steering wheel to be removed completely and let cars do all the driving. “Yes, there might be teething fireballs, but letting robots drive can’t be any worse than letting us do it,” he writes. “About 85 per cent of crashes are the result of human error. Despite huge advances in safety, hundreds still die each year. On the very rare occasion a self-drive car self-drives into a tree, it makes the news. When we do, it’s just another notch on a very grim spreadsheet.”

He further points to what he calls the joy of automation. “Your car could drive you back from the pub. You could summon it if you miss the last train home. Quicker and cheaper than a minicab, and less likely to start a conversation about the problem with this country nowadays. I have three kids, so most of the time I already feel like I’m in a taxi. Why do I need to be there? The robot can do all the pick-ups and drop-offs. It can watch them play rugby. It can pick up the Friday-night curry.”

Two such differing comments from journalists in the field suggest the debate about driverless technology is raging, and for publicity for the sector, this can surely only be a good thing.

(Picture – Yay Images)

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