Driverless vehicles: the down side

In our last blog we looked at autonomous vehicles, which are said to be the future of driving. Google’s self-driving car is set to be widely available by 2018, and it could revolutionise the way in which we travel. While the self-driving car is an incredibly impressive robotic invention, there are also some downsides to such an advanced vehicle.


What could possibly go wrong?

Cyber security and transport experts have warned that hackers could take advantage of the technology used in driverless vehicles by hacking into it, taking control of vehicles, and causing chaos on the roads.

Autonomous vehicles reduce road casualties by eliminating human error, but it is thought that they could actually increase the risk of accidents amongst motorists who continue to use manual vehicles if the two types of car are allowed to mix on the same roads.




What does the research show?

Recent research, which was conducted in driving simulators, has shown that when using the same road as an autonomous vehicle, human drivers tend to change their behaviour and copy the driving style of the driverless car, e.g. by leaving less space between the vehicle in front. An autonomous vehicle is equipped with sensors and has the ability to be able to react almost instantaneously, while human reactions are much slower.


What does the future look like in Britain?

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) recently published a report on autonomous vehicles and how they can be integrated onto British roads. The IET predicts that within 15 years we will see fully autonomous vehicles transporting goods and people around Britain, bringing cheaper and safer mobility options for passengers.

Driverless vehicles could also lead to more people living in the countryside as a self-driving car makes it easier to get around in rural locations without the ability to drive. This could be of particular benefit for elderly people who retire to the countryside for a slower pace of life, but still need to access shops and healthcare.




What will it take to get them on the road?

The Department for Transport is set to begin a series of trials from January next year, placing driverless vehicles on Britain’s roads. However, the IET believe that the reliability and security of the software used in self-driving cars will be a major issue for manufacturers and insurers.

We live in a world where people are always trying to tamper with technology, and self-driving vehicles are a prime target for hackers. The software in autonomous vehicles would need to be completely reliable and bug free in order to be rolled out properly. Recent reports show that 98% of applications have serious defects at the moment, so this is an area that really needs to be worked on before we see widespread use of autonomous vehicles on Britain’s roads.