If you’re still one of those people who thinks of self drive cars as the stuff of science fiction, it’s time to get used to the reality. Volvo has announced one of the largest UK trials of such vehicles, which will include families being transported in “autonomous” cars on public roads in London as soon as next year.
According to a report in The Telegraph, there will be up to 100 of these vehicles driving themselves around the UK by 2018. With the speed that technology moves, it’s reasonable to expect plenty more trials of this nature in the next couple of years. Another has already been announced for Greenwich this summer.
Learning to “drive” self drive cars
Meanwhile, the European Transport Safety Council is discussing how to adapt driving tests to take account of the continual development of self drive cars.
One of the key points is in training drivers when to decide to “take back control” of a vehicle that is designed to be autonomous. One can imagine this being quite a judgement call when trust is placed in the hands (or wheels) of a machine! It will therefore be key to ensure drivers understand how the underlying technology works. According to the report, the self drive cars themselves will also have to be capable of passing a driving test!
In other related recent news, The Telegraph has also been discussing autonomous features that are already reasonably widespread, specifically autonomous breaking, which can spot upcoming hazards and brake if you fail to yourself.
Apparently, studies show that cars with these systems can reduce incidents of driving into the vehicle in front by nearly 40%. However, thanks to confusion over the naming conventions of these systems, they’re not being adopted by drivers as quickly as would be ideal.
As the functionality of self drive cars improves, the real battle will be to persuade traditional drivers to trust them. A recent study suggested that 75% of US drivers “fear” these autonomous vehicles. Let us know what you think in the comments!