Would you hop on a bus without a ‘driver’, or jump in a taxi while the ‘cabbie’ reads the paper?
Would you be happy to get engrossed in the latest blockbuster film while you slip behind the wheel to head off on your holidays?
It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but you may find yourself doing all of these things sooner than you think!
Self-driving vehicles are set to become a fixture on UK roads by 2025 under government plans.
And some vehicles with self-driving features could be operating on motorways as early as next year.
So, what are the pros and cons of self-driving cars?
Advocates say the introduction of the vehicles on UK roads will reduce accidents, by cutting out the opportunity for driver error, currently one of the main causes of crashes.
As part of the rollout plans, the government has pledged £34 million to pay for research to support safety developments and measures specifically around self-driving cars. Much testing has been taking place and will continue to be carried out to ensure improvements are ongoing.
It is anticipated that manufacturers would be responsible for the vehicle’s actions when driving, meaning any human on board would not be liable.
This means making sure the vehicles are as safe as they can be will be a top priority for manufacturers.
Some are adamant that a computer cannot possibly match a human’s ability to react quickly and appropriately to sudden and unforeseen hazards.
And what if there is a malfunction? With any electronic device or computer system things can sometimes go wrong unexpectedly. This could have obvious devastating consequences for the people on board.
The government estimates up to 38,000 new jobs could be created in the UK from the introduction of self-driving cars, and the industry is said to be worth around £42bn for the UK economy.
If qualified drivers are no longer needed for public transport, and regular drivers no longer need to be trained and issued with a licence, this could lead to higher unemployment. What happens to all those people involved in and employed by the driving industry? The knock-on effects in associated industries could also be huge.
As self-driving vehicles remove the need to source enough qualified drivers to ensure public transport reaches all corners of the UK, it means that rural communities may be better connected with public transport.
And for those who don’t or can’t drive, through disability for instance, being able to access a self-driving vehicle may provide a means of getting out and about independently that they have never had before.
Elderly people who are no longer considered ‘safe’ on the roads, may still be able to travel around and maintain their independence.
Who takes over if something goes wrong and the person on board is unable to drive? As before, if qualified drivers are no longer needed, unemployment could rise.
Lower accident rates could mean a fall in insurance premiums.
Confusion may surround insurance costs and liability and the initial cost to buy a self-driving car could be very high.
Journeys could be quicker as the cars can determine the fastest routes and adhere to the rules of the road.
There may actually more congestion with many more vehicles on the roads.
It is clear there are many arguments for and against self-driving cars. But, just like electric cars, they are well on their way to becoming a regular sight on UK roads.
We have touched on just a few of the issues here, but if you have any other questions, give us a call. We can help you decide if self-driving is right for you.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 0333 006 3825.