Recently, Google unveiled its computerized driverless bubble car that has no brakes, accelerator pedals, or steering wheel. Instead, it has buttons for a pullover, emergency stop and starts, and a computer monitor showing the desired route.
Driverless cars will be on the British roads by January 2015. This is according to a report from British Business Secretary Vince Cable. The Minister had previously admitted that the current Highway Code and rules of the road have to be changed in order to allow driverless cars on UK roads. In the USA, driverless cars are only permitted on roads of certain states, and only when there is someone sitting in the driver’s seat. The California Department of Motor Vehicles is expected to start issuing licenses to particular driverless cars and their human co-drivers as soon as September.
For driverless cars to be allowed in the UK, the United Nations Convention on Road Traffic has to be altered. It states, “Every driver shall at all times be able to control his vehicle or to guide his animal.” This convention covers Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Russia, and European countries but not Japan, China, or the United States.
In Britain, ministers will review the road regulations to ensure that it is appropriate to test driverless cars. Two areas of the driverless technology will be considered in the review: fully autonomous vehicles with no driver and cars with a qualified driver who can control the driverless car. Business Secretary Vince Cable said, “The distinction of our scientists has recognized the UK as pioneers in their great advancement of driverless vehicles through pilot projects. This will open up new opportunities for our society and economy.”
Transport Minister Claire Perry said, “Driverless vehicles have a lot of prospective to transform Britain’s transport network. They could reduce congestion, lower emissions, and improve safety. We are resolute to ensure driverless cars can accomplish this potential. This is the reason we are tirelessly reviewing regulatory obstacles to establish the required framework for allowing driverless cars on the UK’s roads.
However, the majority of road users are suspicious of driverless cars. According to a survey of about 24,000 AA members, 43% did not welcome the idea of amending the UK legislation in order to pave the way for the driverless cars. Therefore, it may take a lot of time to convince people to agree to give up control of their cars to a computer. They don’t have trust in a machine.
The survey showed only a small group of drivers were eager to take their hands off the wheel and let the car take over. The majority of the drivers are not willing to change as 65% of them enjoy driving, and they are not ready to let the car take over from them. Nowadays, most of the cars are more automated. However, it requires a lot of effort to convince the driver to advance from embracing assistance systems to acquiescent the fully automated cars. Majority of the cars are already installed with automatic features like automatic braking, and the driverless cars will be able to identify hazards more effectively than human beings, but many motorists are concerned about not being able to control the speed of their car for the layout or conditions of the roads in front of them.
Despite trepidation from motorists, politicians are ardent for Britain to dominate the production of technologies for self-directed cars. Transport Minister Greg Clark said, “Britain is luminously placed to lead the globe in a driverless car. It combines our strengths in satellites, cars, urban design, and big data with huge budding benefits for future careers and customers. We also expect our environment to be safer due to reduced emissions.”
Recently, Science minister David Willets said that he was in a discussion with the Department for Transport concerning rewriting the law to permit autonomous cars on Britain’s roads. He claimed that Britain is a Universe leader’ in the field of technology. He added that there is a British technology on driverless cars that is in progress, and it will be cheaper than Google technology. It is now clear that Britain is also working tirelessly to join the market of driverless cars as they polish up their technology that is being developed at Oxford. This technology will transforms road transport for the majority of the residents.