If you’re a car fanatic – or even if you’re more of a tech fanatic – you will have heard the buzz surrounding Google’s self-driving car.
What once seemed an impossibility – a car on the open road without the aid of a driver – has now become quite the reality with Google unveiling plans to manufacture another hundred of their driverless vehicles in May this year.
The autonomous technology in the Google driverless cars uses careful scanning of the road in order to avoid objects, pedestrians and other vehicles. Requiring no steering wheel or pedals but just a stop and go button, the Google self-driving car has already clocked over 300,000 miles in California and seen their autonomous technology into cars built by other companies such as Audi, Toyota and Lexus.
So what about self-driving in the UK?
Despite UK engineers experimenting with driverless cars, some concerns over insurance and legal issues mean that they have so far only been allowed on private roads. But could all that begin to change in 2015?
Measures are currently being outlined by the UK government to allow driverless cars on public roads as well as private; something that is set to happen in the next year.
In an aim to make Britain a leader in such technology, the Department of Transport pledged to have the cars trialled on public roads by the end of 2013, with the Treasury creating a £10million prize fund for the town or city that became a testing zone for the technology.
So far however, other countries have acted quicker in allowing autonomous cars onto their public roads.
In Japan, the first public road test of an autonomous vehicle was carried out on one of their highways in 2013, with the Swedish city of Gothenburg pledging to allow 1000 Volvo driverless cars on the road by 2017.
Despite tests being successful so far, there are understandably still major concerns being raised by politicians in the US and the world over about the safely of the cars.
In the US, the FBI have said the cars could be used as ‘lethal weapons’ and brought to light their predictions that such driverless cars could “have a high impact on transforming what both law enforcement and its adversaries can operationally do with a car”.
What is your opinion of driverless cars hitting UK roads next year?
Some people are praising the advantages of such technologies for the way in which it could change long distance driving: tiredness and fatigue will no longer be of concern, HGV companies or courier services will save money on drivers and expenses, not to mention the benefits it could have for the disabled or the driving impaired.
But if you flip this – will driverless technology put long distance drivers and other people who drive for a living out of work? Do you think that these kinds of technologies will make us a lazy nation in the long run?
Whether you think this technology is a god-send or a lethal weapon in the making, driverless cars are becoming more of a reality and something that could be in the next lane sooner rather than later.