Road Safety News
 

Driverless cars are the future, not science fiction: Andrew Jones

Wednesday 25th May 2016

Speaking at a conference in Milton Keynes last week (25 May), the roads minister Andrew Jones said “driverless cars are coming, and sooner than many people expect”.

Mr Jones told delegates at the conference that the Government believes that “within four years it will be possible to buy cars that, under supervision, park on their own and pilot themselves on motorways”.

He described autonomous vehicles as “a great step forward in automotive history” with the potential to “add significantly to quality of life and human freedom”.

On the subject of insurance, Mr Jones said the Government’s new legislation, announced in the recent Queen’s Speech, will “create space for insurers to innovate and meet the needs of a radically different market”.

He described human-navigated cars as a “stepping stone to the car’s ultimate form”, adding that “eventually, there will be virtually nothing left for the motorist to do”.

Mr Jones said: “Those who can’t currently drive will gain the chance to take to the open road (and) that could transform the lives of many older people.

“Those of us who are already motorists will gain free time on our journeys to do other things; to work, read, watch television or socialise with our fellow passengers.

“After dropping us at our destination, our cars may well be able to return home on their own, to charge themselves, or perhaps make themselves available for other users.

“And all this should make travelling far safer.

“More than nine in 10 of today’s road fatalities have an element of human error. The great hope for driverless cars is that they can eliminate those deaths (and) transform road safety in our country.

“These advances might sound like science fiction, but the early models are already in testing."

Turning his attention to the insurance issues, he said there has been “a lot of speculation about what the advent of the driverless car means for the insurance industry”.

Mr Jones added: “Some of the more excitable commentators have said that driverless cars will make motor insurance unnecessary.

“I believe that is pie in the sky - at least for the moment. But what does seem certain is that insurance will need to change.

“Firstly, much of the data on which insurance is priced and sold will steadily become obsolete.

“Secondly, vast quantities of new kinds of data will become available, assessing not individual driver risk but vehicle behaviour and other factors.

“And thirdly, in the event of a serious collision when in driverless mode, it would be the vehicle at fault, instead of the human driver.

“In the legislation we will propose, we want to create space for the industry to lead these changes.

“Compulsory motor insurance will be retained, but it will be extended to cover product liability, so that when a motorist has handed control to their vehicle, they can be reassured that their insurance will be there if anything goes wrong.

“Where the vehicle is at fault then the insurer will be able to seek reimbursement from the manufacturer.

“The vital point is that, for affected individuals, the insurance process will feel much the same. Motorists and victims of collisions won’t be forced to go to court to obtain compensation.

“We will consult on these changes over the summer, and we expect them to become law in time for applicable vehicles to come onto the market.”

Click here to read the full transcript of Mr Jones’ speech.

 

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" “within four years it will be possible to buy cars that, under supervision, park on their own and pilot themselves on motorways”."

Bit slow, I have been watching ads on TV for self-parking cars for a while now, and recently Volvo have been advertising self steering, not to mention Tesla.

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" Also, whilst the vehicles may well be up to the task of not actually causing collisions, will they be smart enough to anticipate and avoid other road users' mistakes?"

They may well be better. How about a car that tells every other car behind it, "I am braking" rather than waiting for eyes, be they human or electronic to see the change in speed and react? Better yet, a car that says "Obstruction in lane one at this position". So the first few have to make an emergency manoeuvre, but all behind have plenty time to change lane in a smooth merge. Oh, and highways automatically alerted to the obstruction too.

Both air and sea shipping use collision avoidance systems where craft communicate directly with others in the vicinity and keep them informed of course, speed, and changes. Easily adapted to the highways.
steve, watford

Agree (0) | Disagree (0)
0

We are now, and no doubt in the future, forever hearing or reading about automation in vehicular transport and an extortionate amount of time and monies is and will be spent. With all that comes of it in the future, will it be a complete panacea for all collisions, thus making road traffic legislation and all incidents a thing of the past or will it be just another boondoggle? I fancy the latter. Again, only time will tell.
R. Craven, Blackpool

Agree (9) | Disagree (2)
+7

We don't know the credentials of those who program these vehicles. They may be technical wizards, but may have programmed the cars according to their own driving standards which, for all we know, may not be that high. Also, whilst the vehicles may well be up to the task of not actually causing collisions, will they be smart enough to anticipate and avoid other road users' mistakes? In other words, can they think? I have this nagging doubt that the powers that be have not thought this through and are getting carried away with the technological kudos and not the everyday practicalities of life on the road.
Hugh Jones

Agree (10) | Disagree (4)
+6

So the government are spending £100 million to support trials. Interesting. As Mr Jones also said “Those who can’t currently drive will gain the chance to take to the open road (and) that could transform the lives of many older people." will the government also spend £100 million supporting the driving instructors who may possibly end up on the unemployment register?

Ok the first step is self parking vehicles which we have already and convoys on motorways which have been trialed elsewhere. We need to invest in not only the vehicles but the smart street furniture or GPS signalling. The legislation for smart street technology is not yet on the table and vehicle manufacturers will go for GPS systems which will work in developing countries because they will not want to make different technological vehicles for different countries. All this and we have to consider the cost of these high tech vehicles for the user and still those who want to have hands on experience in their classic cars. 2CV still running and hopefully for a long time to come.
Peter City of Westminster

Agree (9) | Disagree (1)
+8