M4 musings on driverless cars

Blog post posted on 06/05/16 |

Lesley Upham – IAM RoadSmart commercial director

My crawl home from the office gives me plenty of time to think. I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise to you that London traffic isn’t usually the best. A particularly gruelling journey recently set my mind to the topic of actually not having to drive at all. Autonomous cars.

And despite being a confident driver it occurred to me that this is really just the next step in the evolution of making motoring safer, easier and more pleasurable.

I started driving in a really old Mini and had to know my hand signals to pass my test. My dear old Mini had a choke (which enabled me to regularly flood the engine!), but now cars start cleanly and efficiently. And we have indicators along the body of the car to show our intentions to other road users

As the years have progressed ABS has become ubiquitous, electronic stability control is the norm and Autonomous Emergency Braking is fitted as standard on 20% of all new cars sold.

Cars can even park themselves.

If Major Tim Peake can manoeuvre a Mars rover based in a hanger in Stevenage from the International Space Station, then equipping a car to drive itself to a set of predefined criteria shouldn’t be a giant leap for mankind.  

Thinking of how grateful I had been for a van driver letting me out on the motorway earlier in the day, I wondered how an autonomous car will reflect the nuances of a human driver. Will it flick the hazard flashers on as a cheery thank you, when someone lets it through a gap in the traffic? Umm……

The idea of less strain more gain sounds very attractive to me but how long will it be before I can do my emails on the way home? Will I have retired before that point? 

All the signs say driverless cars are coming and likely within the next 20 years. How do you feel about this progress? Like me do you welcome the opportunity to check your emails on the move? Or do you feel we’re getting on ok as we are? I'd love to hear what you think. 

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