UK driving hard to promote driverless cars


Britain is one of the leading nations in the drive towards creating a driverless car society. The benefits of automated vehicles are increased safety, more economical, and better for the environment. This is why the UK has decided to invest more in the whole idea.

In an article posted by the BBC, Chancellor Philip Hammond said in an interview that the plan is to have “fully driverless cars” in use by 2021. A fully driverless vehicle doesn’t need to be monitored by anyone on board and, in some cases, might not even have a human passenger at all, such as a delivery vehicle.

Hammond told the BBC, “Some would say that’s a bold move, but we have to embrace these technologies if we want the UK to lead the next industrial revolution.” Additionally, he was asked the hard question that everyone everywhere seems to be posing when topics of automation come into the spotlight: “What about all those drivers losing jobs?” Answering quite honestly, he said that Britain cannot hide from change and the government would take up the responsibility to equip its citizens with the necessary skills “to take up new careers”.

What are some of the big benefits of driverless vehicles

When you really sit down and think about it, commercial airliners have been automated for decades now. As a matter of fact, commercial airliners can even land themselves when visibility is too low for the pilot to safely land the plane.

For the most part, aeroplanes have been getting us from A to B virtually 100 percent automated for a long time now. Even container ships and cruise boats propel themselves most of the way with very minimal assistance from a captain or crew.

If we can accept the fact that a computer is flying us 40,000 feet above the ground at 550mph in a 400 tonne Jumbo Jet, then isn’t it time we begin to accept driverless cars? Admittedly, it’s less frightening to think of.

Some of the most noteworthy benefits of driverless cars are:

  • The roads will be safer. Volvo’s Senior Technical Leader for Safety and Driver Support Technologies, Erik Coelingh, told Business Insider it’s pretty difficult to find any other way to make the roads safer other than through vehicle automation technology.
  • Fewer traffic problems. Driverless cars are inherently designed to be more efficient. This means they will not make the mistakes human drivers make, which in turn will help decrease traffic.
  • More fuel-efficient. Self-driving cars optimise acceleration and braking, which in turn makes for better traffic flow. These things added together equal less fuel consumption overall. It’s said that adopting driverless vehicles could reduce CO² emissions by 300 million tonnes per year.
  • More free time. Ever had one of those mornings when you’re late to work but you need to finish typing something up? You need to leave now! But you need to type this, too! Then you think, “Wish the car drove itself so I could finish this and be on the way.” Well, having a driverless car will solve such dilemmas

What About Driverless Car Morality

As of now, no one, not the car companies or the lawmakers, has decided who should be at risk if, let’s say, you walk in the middle of the street without looking and the car must decide who lives: you or its passengers. According to a study done by Jean-Francois Bonnefon from the University of Toulouse, it seems that most of the public unanimously choose to live and let you get mowed down. I’m sure you would be opposed to that.

Bonnefon said that setting regulations on automated vehicles from a government level may be the only way to solve this dilemma since it doesn’t matter which position you’re in, no one really wants to sacrifice their own life willingly, especially if there are loved ones in the vehicle. Nevertheless, he also warned that by starting such debates on the government level could mean stalling progress in the development of driverless cars.

Professor Toby Walsh, from the Australian data innovation group Data61, had this to say as well:  “The biggest ethical question then becomes: How quickly should we move towards full automation given that we have a technology that potentially could save a lot of people, but is going to be imperfect and is going to kill a few?”

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