Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.
What if keeping your hands on the wheel ceased to be compulsory and became a hindrance to travel? Personal transport that does the getting there for you. The advent of driverless technology is closer than you think.
How would you feel about completing your motoring expenses reclaim form while you were actually motoring? Would you get those emails answered, have a coffee, and read the paper, while zooming down the fast lane? We’ll guess you’d be more than a trifle uncomfortable with any of that, unless your plan is to depart this mortal coil on the trip, and take some innocent commuters with you.
What though, if you could step into your car and do anything you wanted - your safety could be assured, a punctual arrival guaranteed, and all the driving chores handled for you? You don’t need to be Lady Penelope in the back seat with Parker’s peaked cap up front. Everything from a pink Cadillac to a pink Ka could be driving all by itself in a few short years. Science fiction is about to get behind the wheel of science fact, and take the most dangerous aspect of driving out of human hands - the humans.
The media has been driven into a frenzy by Vince Cable’s recent announcements. The Business Secretary has declared that it will be possible for driverless cars to take to UK roads from January of next year. Real Business website said that there were three candidate urban sites to be chosen as test cases, and road regulations would be amended accordingly.
The shock of the news startled many of us as surely as an overtaking cyclist in the lefthand blindspot, but, if truth be told, self-guiding road technology has been coming for a while. Proximity alerts, automated lane departure warning systems, cruise control, and self-parking are all available on high-end cars right now. BMW are among the leaders in driverless technology - building on their decades of experience of indicatorless technology, as favoured by most drivers of the marque. Many other manufacturers too are on the slip road to the automated super highway.
Of course, for as long as anyone can remember, there has been a means of getting around the roads without the stress of driving. It’s called a bus. This though isn’t about someone else doing the driving for you, this is a whole new paradigm and, if there’s one thing the insurers don’t like, it’s a shift in paradigms. Their reaction has been predictably knee-jerk, as driverless technology puts the brakes on conventional motor cover.
Advocates however say the techno-backseat driver could slash the one and a quarter million deaths attributable to road accidents, globally, every year – this has to be a positive.
However, it could mark the beginning of the end for the erudite, well-argued, balanced, concise and always welcome conversation of the cabbie.... now there’s a thought!