It’s probably fair to say that for some in the private hire industry, autonomous cars are still a long way away.
But how close are they really and what potential issues will they bring with them?
Will we ever be ready?
Incredible as it sounds, the first trials began decades ago but work only made rapid progress when the first micro-processors arrived in the 1980s.
Since that time, predictions for driverless cars have been made yet self-evidently, they’re still not a mainstream reality on the roads even today.
There have been a number of stumbling blocks along the way including:
- the basic technology to control the car. Advances in technology seems to be addressing this largely electro-mechanical challenge;
- sensing the surroundings of the vehicle. This seems to be making good progress but some crashes, including a fatality, have called into question whether this is entirely finalised;
- public confidence. The public’s view of a car hurtling towards them at say 70mph with nobody behind the wheel, has yet to be assessed. That is also true for passengers, such as the executive on the way to a business critical meeting or a bride to a wedding with no human in charge of the vehicle;
- the vehicle’s location and that of its destination. Although there is now the standard GPS technology, one only has to think of the number of times that existing SatNav proves unreliable, imprecise or offers incomplete directions, to wonder what a vehicle would do when it “dropped off the grid” and wasn’t sure where it was. Imagine it trying to drive up a non-existent SatNav road when there’s no human driver to sort things out;
- insurance. Just who will accept liability in a situation where two driverless vehicles have collided? This is still to be addressed within the realms of motor insurance, insurance for chauffeurs and private hire insurance etc.
All in all, a number of challenges still need to be overcome before driverless vehicles are likely to start arriving in large numbers on our streets.
So, that’s nothing to worry about then?
Perhaps “worry” is the wrong word but hiding from the approaching reality wouldn’t be wise.
Some technical gurus may simply see the car as just another component of the “internet of things” (IoT) and driverless cars of the future being advertising and entertainment platforms for passengers. That might come, but it’s probably still some way off.
However, with the ongoing progress within the technological industry it is possible that driverless cars could be on our roads sooner than you may think. Even some obstacles that have been seen as insurmountable, such as those involving liability will likely be resolved in the not too distant future. Some may even consider driverless vehicles as a potential solution to the country’s current traffic and accident ills.
So, what should you be doing now?
Well, it’s difficult to spot anything concrete.
If you’re in the private hire business as a professional chauffeur, you might wish to start taking some very informal soundings with your clients to help gauge just how receptive they would be to a driverless limousine in the future!
If you have any concerns or worries about your private hire insurance, why not call Aston Scott without delay on 03300 085045? As experts in the field, we will be able to assist.