It is the beginning of 2018 and the UK is already looking towards the very futuristic sounding date of 2021, where it is hoped that Brit will be chauffeured around the countries roadways in driverless vehicles. The concept of self-driving cars can seem a long ways away, but just as 2021 is around the corner regardless of its far future sound, autonomous vehicles are already with us, with more slated to start rolling off the production lines.
In November 2017 it was announced that legislation surrounding the testing of driverless cars would be removed to allow testing to take place on British roads. This announcement means that autonomous vehicles would not be required to have a human operator outside or inside the car. Legislation against this currently exists in EU countries and the US. This change is widely seen as a move to position a post-Brexit UK as a leader in driverless car technology, implementation an infrastructure.
As driverless vehicles ane electric cars go hand in hand a whopping £400 million fund has also been announced to encourage the building and upkeep of charging stations for cars. After all, its one thing to have electric cars but it’s not much good if there is nowhere to charge them!
Starting in 2016 Milton Keynes has been the trialling driverless ‘Pod’ cars in the local shopping area. The pods are able to ferry shoppers from one location to another and run at a stately 15mph. Milton Keynes apparently made a great first testing ground due to its grid-like roads. During 2017 more cities began experimenting with autonomous public transit, London, for example, has completed over 100km of driverless trials including a demonstration to show how disabled drivers could make use of this new technology.
Leaf and Tesla have already released cars that can be considered autonomous, only requiring periodic contact from the driver to keep the car heading towards its ultimate destination. Roundabouts though, have proven to be quite confusing for the computer brains of these machines!
As technology advances and people become more used to the sight of a car with no one at the wheel, we can only guess at what the eventual future and vision of self-driving cars will be.