Government ministers have revealed that motorists won’t require a driving licence in order to use driverless vehicles ahead of the cars’ first trial in Britain.
According to officials, autonomous vehicles will benefit vulnerable users like the disabled, the elderly, and even children who could be put in a driverless car and sent to school without adults.
Ministers are set to officially announce the beginning of trials on British roads this Wednesday, after a six-month study into the practical, legal and safety issues surrounding driverless vehicles.
Concluding that there was “no barrier” to testing intelligent cars in the UK, transport minister Claire Perry said: “I have a vision of the school-run driverless car where you wave your children off to school and they come back at 3.30.”
They will “think for themselves”
Using a combination of laser guidance and scanners to read the road ahead, autonomous vehicles will apparently be able to ‘think’ for themselves and safely navigate around the roadways.
While this momentous leap forward in technology might sound as though it’s ripped straight from a scene in a sci-fi movie, experts and engineers have said that it’s much closer than people think.
A large amount of the technology needed is already fitted to modern cars, with sensors and computer systems allowing vehicles to stay in lane, brake automatically and even park themselves.
Whitehall ministers also addressed the worries of drivers who are concerned over the future of motoring, saying that autonomous cars are a supplement to, not a replacement for, existing cars.
Ministers said that conventional cars will still be on the roads, but that driverless technology could benefit millions of people without licences or who would be otherwise unable to drive themselves.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Driverless cars have the potential to transform lives. This is an important step towards ensuring Britain is at the forefront of this exciting development.”
Also highlighted was the potential safety benefits of artificially-intelligent vehicles, with ministers noting that as many as 90 per cent of collisions are due to human error.
Britain the number one place in the world for driverless cars
The news sets the government on course to fulfil its aims to make Britain the world’s focal point for self-driving cars, leading the development of autonomous vehicle technology.
Until now, driverless cars have been restricted to private land or specialised test tracks, but three trials in Greenwich, Milton Keynes and Coventry will now begin in the next few weeks.
Would you feel safe letting your kids travel to school in a driverless car? Why not tell us what you think on Facebook or Twitter?