There has been a lot of talk over the past few years about driverless cars and when they will be used on UK roads. A self-driving car is one that needs no human interaction and instead is operated by artificial intelligence to get you from A to B. The UK recently became the first country in Europe to approve the use of hands-free driving technology which means we could be one step closer to fully-autonomous driving. But when will self-driving cars be available in the UK? The guide below looks at these vehicles in more detail and how they work.
How do self-driving cars work?
Self-driving cars, driverless cars and autonomous vehicles are all the same thing and are simply a vehicle that does not need the interaction of a human to operate them. Instead, artificial intelligence can operate the vehicle through the use of sensors, cameras, computer chips and radar technology. The intelligent system allows the car to process the information about its environment and then take the necessary action such as stop, start, slow down, manoeuvre or speed up accordingly. The driver will need to set a pre-established map of where they want to go and the car will be able to take you from A to B safely.
Self driving cars – pros and cons
There are many benefits to humans using self-driving cars to get around but naturally, there are some concerns around their safety and also the information they have access to. Let’s take a look at both the pros and cons of driverless cars.
✅ Benefits of self-driving cars:
- Improved safety. It may seem unnatural to hand your driving over to technology, but around 90% of car accidents are caused by human error which means the adoption of self-driving cars could make our roads much safer.
- More freedom. Driverless cars could bring much more freedom to drivers and especially to disabled people who can’t currently drive due to the physical aspect that driving needs from them.
- More pleasant driving experience. Not having to keep your focus on the road all the time can give you a better driving experience and would make long road trips much more bearable.
- Better for the environment. It is thought that the majority of driverless cars will also be electric vehicles. One of the main benefits of owning an electric car is the less harmful impact they have on the environment and the ability to recharge your vehicle, rather than spend money on fuel.
“More than 90% of car accidents are caused by human error” – ORSA
❌ Disadvantages of self-driving cars:
- More cars on the road. Whilst driverless could mean the end of congestion as cars will be able to communicate with each other more effectively. It also opens up more opportunities for more drivers to get on the road and could lead to an influx of traffic on the roads which can lead to more congestion than ever.
- Computer hacking. Any piece of technology can be susceptible to hacking and driverless cars are no different. There are a lot of concerns about cybersecurity and the vulnerability of driverless cars.
- Adjusting to different road types. Whilst driverless cars do contain some really high-tech features, helping a car to navigate its environment is still a massive task. Roads in the UK can vary massively from sharp, thin country roads to brand-new smart motorways and there are still concerns about autonomous cars being able to perform efficiently on roads that have faded road markings, adverse corners or narrow lanes.
- Liability for accidents. If a road accident were to happen whilst you were travelling in a driverless car, would be to blame? It can be much harder for insurance companies to pinpoint the blame if fully autonomous vehicles completely take away the need for any human interaction.
When will self-driving cars be available UK?
The UK government plan to have vehicles with full self-driving capabilities on the roads by 2025. New driving laws will be introduced to allow the safe arrival of autonomous vehicles and also create new jobs in the UK. We expect the new plans to be updated soon to facilitate the current plans ready for the 2025 arrival.
April 2023 – The Ford Mustang Mach-e has been approved to use its autonomous vehicle software on UK roads. The BlueCruise technology is a partially automated driving feature which allows the driver to go hands-free. This piece of technology monitors a whole load of information such as road marking, braking and lane positioning, speed signs, acceleration and distances of vehicles ahead. So far, there are designated ‘blue zone’ motorways in the UK where the car would be able to use its hand-free technology and the driver would have to manually drive the car when out of the designated areas.