Will autonomous cars render the driving license obsolete? 0


They’re not yet a familiar sight on the nation’s roads, but the experts are predicting that it’s only a matter of time. As autonomous driving tech continues to evolve and driverless cars begin tests in areas of the UK, how far away are we from road travel being largely automated? Will we still need a driving license in a future populated by autonomous cars?

Tests across the globe are gathering momentum. In Greenwich, south-east London, a droid has been trialled in the delivery of takeaway food to the borough’s residents. In Paris and Helsinki, driverless buses are already transporting passengers around the streets and in Colorado, an 18-wheeler truck drove beer 120 miles down a highway without a human at the wheel.

Impressive as these achievements are, it’s still not known how driverless cars can be programmed to ensure the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and other human drivers when they take to the road in large numbers.

By 2030, it is estimated that up to ten million driverless cars could be in operation worldwide; a small percentage of the one billion-plus already on the road perhaps, but the challenge of finding out how the two types of driver – human and computer – can co-exist is a pertinent one. Engineers are already hard at work looking for answers to the more tricky possibilities that could arise, including unpredictable weather conditions and the unpredictability of human nature.

Driverless car facts

  • 10 million driverless cars predicted worldwide by 2025
  • £100 million UK government grant towards test projects
  • 636,000 miles driven by Google self-driving cars last year

Another quandary is the action driverless cars should take in the situation of an unavoidable accident. For example, should it prioritise the lives of its passengers, or protect them at the sake of pedestrians?

The bare fact remains: until all cars become fully automated and require no human input, steering and braking controls will have to remain. People will still need driving licenses as they may have to take control at a moment’s notice. Dealing will human deficiencies on the roads, such as drunkenness and distraction, will continue to be necessary for the foreseeable future.

Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, but no matter how impressive the improvements, it’s likely that humans will have to remain in the driving seat a little longer.

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