Self-driving vehicles are the future of transportation in the UK, according to the government. The aim is to have self-driving vehicles deployed on the roads by 2025, with the goal of improving transportation and making it safer and more efficient. However, a recent report from a committee of MPs has warned that introducing self-driving vehicles on the roads comes with a range of risks.
So, what exactly is a self-driving vehicle? It is a vehicle that can travel for all or most of a journey without human intervention. There are varying degrees of autonomy, from driver assistance features like cruise control to fully self-driving vehicles that don’t require human intervention at all.
The government believes that self-driving vehicles will lead to safer and less congested roads, better transport links in rural areas, improved access to transportation for those with mobility issues, and cheaper and more reliable public transport.
In terms of how they work, self-driving vehicles use a variety of technologies to control their movements. These include Lidar, which uses laser beams to detect objects around the vehicle, radar, which measures the speed of objects, mapping, which provides a framework for the vehicle to operate, and communication technology to link with infrastructure and other vehicles.
The government claims that self-driving vehicles will improve safety on the roads by reducing human error. They cite a claim from the Institute for Engineering and Technology that for every 10,000 errors made by human drivers, a self-driving vehicle will only commit one. With human error being a factor in the majority of collisions on British roads, removing this potential for error is expected to significantly boost safety.
However, there are also significant risks associated with self-driving vehicles. The Transport Select Committee warns of the potential for large-scale cyber-attacks that could cause mass casualties. There are concerns that malicious actors could take over the control of self-driving vehicles, compromising the safety of passengers. Additionally, there is a concern about the erosion of driver skills as motorists become increasingly reliant on self-driving technology.
The Highway Code recognizes that self-driving vehicles have limitations and may need to hand control back to the driver in certain situations. The driver is responsible for being ready to take control of the vehicle at any time.
In conclusion, while self-driving vehicles hold the potential for safer and more efficient transportation, there are still risks that need to be considered. It is crucial to strike a balance between innovation and ensuring the safety and security of passengers on the roads.
– Government website: UK Government – Connected and Automated Mobility Strategy
– Transport Select Committee Report: The Pathway to Driverless Cars