Driverless cars: are they a thing of the future?
I recently stumbled across an article on the BBC that suggested what the city of 2050 may look like. Amongst the farmscapes, smart buildings and delivery drones were driverless cars. Out of every feature the city of 2050 offered, these caught my eye the most.
Currently, we rely on people to drive cars manually, with other people choosing to walk, take public transport (usually the bus, the tube or a tram) or cycle. In the UK, it may be argued that the transport system is “car-centric”: cars generally have priority in road systems, and the system is somewhat biased towards cars. Public transport in the UK is not as cost-effective or as reliable as our European counterparts’. The lack of funds (and seemingly respect) that it has received from politicians appears to have been passed onto members of the public. This has left us using dirty buses that leak when it rains, often needing to catch two or more to reach our destination. Buses are considered a method of transport for those too young to drive or banned because they have committed a crime; you wouldn’t even consider getting one out of choice. If your car goes in for an MOT, your colleagues rally round to offer you a lift.
For many people with epilepsy, however, driving is a luxury. They rely upon public transport not because they are too young or because they have committed a crime – they were simply born with an unseen disability. Most are respectable, decent citizens and many are able to work. Going to work in a suit on a dirty bus? That’s the reality, and yes, it does happen. It may take an hour to get there by bus when it takes just 20 minutes by car, but there is simply no alternative.
But the future may hold more equality with regards to transport. Driverless cars rely on sensors and cameras to guide them around the roads – the BBC have called them “robo-taxis”. The really great news is that they have already been tested and in the very near future will be used on rural roads. They are safer as they rule out the possibility of human error (and driving currently relies heavily upon humans). With such obvious advantages, it would make sense to have the road system made up of self-driving cars. What they will look like remains a mystery – perhaps like the cars of today, or perhaps more like the cars from a monorail system. We already have cars with in-built parking sensors, and features such as automatic gear change and autopilot have been around for a long time, so perhaps it could be here long before 2050?
If this works, there would be no need for traffic lights. Public and private transport would merge, with everyone potentially being able to drive. They would just get in a car and it would drive itself. Accidents would be reduced (not eliminated altogether – computers can fail – but most accidents are caused by human error).
So, don’t give up hope if you can’t drive or if you’ve had your licence taken from you… In the not too distant future, you may not need one at all.