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Driverless Cars – Risk or Revolution?

July 20, 2018

A revolution in transport will soon be paving the way for cheaper and arguably safer travel. From cars that can park themselves to automatic braking, we have seen a shift towards automation and the latest wave of advancements comes in the form of driverless cars.

This new technological revolution is currently at the advanced stage of testing. The UK government has made the decision to invest £20 million into a competitive fund, enabling the development of autonomous vehicles. This means that the UK is currently leading the driverless car revolution.

The idea is that taxis or busses can be summoned through our phones; much like Uber but without the driver – testing of which was underway in Arizona earlier this year before it was suspended following the death of a pedestrian. This advancement could however pave the way for cheaper road travel with the cost of the driver eliminated.

Manufacturers must carry out in house testing to ensure the vehicles are not a risk to society before being tested on the open roads of the UK and a black box must be fitted in each vehicle to ensure data is recorded about the specific vehicle in question. This, like any black box, will record the safety of the vehicle, for example speed and control and other such data.

A recent article by the World Economic Forum argues that we are not ready for such a revolution. They believe that such a revolution will rely on ‘high bandwidth mobile networks’ and the data that is collected by the vehicles sensors is ‘inherently limited’. This is due to the fact that the sensors will not be able to readily identify vehicles outside of its ‘field of vision’, thus the vehicles need to be equipped to cope with this level of data.

The ease of travel with this advancement could lead to an increase in traffic in cities which will result in congestion and gridlock. These factors all contribute to the potential risks that could come with autonomous vehicles.

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