SELF-DRIVING cars could be allowed on our roads within MONTHS under new plans.
And proposed updates to the Highway Code will mean those using them could watch TV on the move.
Self-driving cars could be allowed on our roads within months under new plansCredit: Getty
Drivers could also take their eyes off the road to send an email or have a natter with their kids in the back seat.
The rule will only apply at speeds under 37mph in “level three” self-driving vehicles, which feature technology that allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel and eyes off the road.
Some level-three cars – such as ones being developed by Mercedes – could be available to customers this year.
Drivers will still be banned from using a mobile to make calls after studies found they were distracting.
Transport Minister Trudy Harrison has heralded the new moves a “major milestone” for the “safe introduction” of these futuristic cars.
But not everyone agrees.
Two motor industry experts give their views.
AT least three times a week, Netflix starts buffering while I’m watching a film.
My internet regularly goes on the wonk for no apparent reason.
Rob Gill says: ‘I wouldn’t trust a robot car to do school run. Would you?’Credit: Stewart Williams – The Sun
Suddenly all my smart devices at home aren’t so smart when Virgin Media is having a bad day.
These things are annoying but at least no one is in danger.
But if the “computer says No” in a self-driving car, the consequences could be lethal.
I wouldn’t trust a robot car to do the school run. Would you?
So to suggest a driver can hand over control of a vehicle and watch TV at up to 37mph is madness.
A computer can’t make human decisions.
Can it respond to 999 sirens?
Can it see brake lights beyond the car in front?
Will it work in bad weather, when the cameras and radar can’t see very well?
Will it work in tunnels? My DAB radio doesn’t.
And does it mean I can have a skinful down the pub and get a ride home in my own car?
Then there’s the ethical issues.
I wouldn’t trust a robot car to do school run. Would you?
Take this nightmare scenario: A 90-year-old man is being driven by an autonomous car down the road when a three-year-old runs out.
The car can either carry on, killing the three-year-old, or swerve into a wall, killing the 90-year-old.
Already firms including Mercedes have said the car will always protect the occupant.
I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t live with the fact that I’d run over a three-year-old when I could have avoided it by being in control of my own car.
There are other issues, too.
The legalities will take years. Then there’s cost, data protection, hacking.
Self-driving cars could be used as a weapon.
Road signs and road markings would need to be consistent on every inch of the country’s tarmac for the cars to read them.
And what happens to all our HGV drivers, taxi drivers and van drivers? They’d be out of a job. And for what? To answer a question no one was asking.
I will admit the march towards autonomous systems has made driving safer along the way.
Automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control are good examples of that.
But the endgame is: A) Too dangerous. B) Too expensive. C) Totally uncalled for.
If you really want to watch TV or check emails or snog your mistress on the move, get a cab.
Or jump on a train.
IT’S time we grew up and accepted that computers will always be better than us.
Not only do they pay more attention than the average human but they also obey speed limits and continue to make our lives endlessly better.
Steve Endacott says: ‘Let tech do what it does best, giving us more leisure’Credit: Steve Endacott
Why shouldn’t you be able to do your office work on your commute, if you’re stuck in a traffic jam, so you don’t have to do it at home?
You could also use the journey to watch TV, chat on your handsfree or check your emails.
Overall, it will make all of our lives better and it’s safer.
If it’s OK for rich people to have chauffeurs, why can’t working-class people have cars to do it for them too?
I have a Tesla Model X and it’s a much better driver than I am in heavy motorway traffic.
It has eight surround cameras that provide a 360-degree view which is constantly monitored, which keeps me between the white lines of my lane.
More importantly, it keeps me moving as long as the car in front of me is doing so too and dramatically cuts the slowness of driver reactions.
It reduces the sheer weight of traffic delays, which are caused by fellow road users not paying attention because they are bored or distracted while waiting in a jam.
Let tech do what it does best, giving us more leisure.
In the past, people kicked off about parking sensors, rear-view cameras and cruise control, but now they are useful and sought-after features in many of our cars.
There’s so much myth and negativity when it comes to technology and it blocks us from making progress.
Could you have imagined, 30 years ago, how great the world would be now when the internet was in its infancy and we didn’t all have a smartphone?
Computers can read maps and follow sat nav better than a human and cameras can recognise shapes and indicators, which help when driving.
It’s time to let technology do what it does best – allowing us to have more leisure time and to finish our work quicker.
We need to start imagining the electric vehicle self-drive world and get ready for the future.
The Highway Code’s update is just a starting block that will help us with that transition.
If we don’t, then technology can’t be used on the motorways at a low speed and it won’t be put into cars, meaning we will be left behind.
The more vehicles that have this tech, the safer it will be for all of us.