Self-driving cars on UK roads come with a lot of questions and issues that have to be addressed.
Let’s imagine for a second that you’re in your autonomous vehicle. The car drives itself smoothly while you check your phone or play that game you’re obsessed with. Assuming that the car isn’t able to recognize a stop sign, a red light, or pedestrians crossing the street in an unmarked area, the car’s occupants will need to be able to take the wheel at any moment.
This means that they would still need to pay attention to the road, even if they’re not really driving and their autonomous vehicle does the job for them. That’s basically the purpose of self-driving cars, right? To let drivers relax, do their own thing, avoid obstacles on the road that they might not be able to see, and reduce potential accidents.
So why would a passenger have to intervene if the car knows what it’s doing?
The UK will pretty soon start testing self-driving cars on its roads, and the government thought this was a good time to start drafting rules and regulations that will require the passengers to remain alert at all times.
In this pilot project, they will test for how long a driver (that isn’t actually driving) can remain alert when he or she isn’t doing anything.
As far as I can tell, there is still a lot of uncertainty related to how a self-driving car will react in certain spontaneous situations, like detecting when a person or animal jumps out of nowhere in front of your car.
For the moment, it makes sense for the government to introduce rules and regulations that have to do with the safety of autonomous vehicles.
Understanding self-driving cars
Image credits: http://www.engadget.com/2012/12/03/volvo-self-driving-cars-2014/
Right now, things are more theoretical with how autonomous cars really work and how they are able to react in crisis situations. That’s why the focus is on testing, testing, and testing the cars in the real world, because only this will help them understand what maneuvers they can make if needed.
This pilot program will also help them understand how autonomous vehicles can fit people’s everyday lives and what their impact would be on our lives.
Another issue will be with insurance. The trial will be a great starting point to investigate the implications of insurance and to analyze the public’s response to the new technology.
The aim of the trial
The UK trial is the first step toward figuring out howcars will be able to cope with traffic and the infrastructure, which will most likely need to be adapted to the new situation.
The current rules and road regulations are not suited for driverless cars. That’s why the government is the one responsible for introducing rules that will require the occupants of self-driving cars to take action in case something happens.
We’ll just have to see whether self-driving cars make the roads safer and how the public is going to embrace this change. Only after the UK government sees the first reactions, will they be able to move forward.
Are you in touch with the latest news in this industry? Do you believe that the cars will be able to manage themselves without the intervention of a human driver? Let me know what your thoughts are.