The bizarre phenomenon of self driving cars introduced by Google seems to be heating up with potential competition from the controversial Uber taxi service. The ‘autonomous car’ is a concept the public are failing to latch on to in fear of their safety but even on paper the notion of the car being in control seems a little far-fetched. Still, this hasn’t stopped Google further developing their driverless tech with UK tests rolling out across the UK in Bristol, Coventry, Milton Keynes and Greenwich this year for a period of 18 to 36 months!
The government are said to be funding a good £19 million of the trials expenses but don’t expect to see Herbie rolling up your high street going bananas anytime soon as all testing will take place away from main public roads. Those that fear a driverless future needn’t worry; it’s very unlikely that the technology or consumer desire will be there to replace the freedom of a traditional vehicle. Those who should be a little worried are taxi drivers, as it’s more than likely that driverless cars are the next progression in public transport.
The news is alight with news that Uber are launching an ‘advanced technologies centre’ in Pittsburgh in order to develop their own ‘autonomous’ technology and trial safety tests. For those unfamiliar with Uber, they are a hugely popular mobile app ‘taxi’ service operated entirely outside of regulation. Their drivers are essentially hired on the basis they own an acceptable vehicle and are qualified to drive, hence worries over passenger safety. They have been at the receiving end of countless protests throughout Europe and American by taxi drivers, companies and government officials who believe Uber are operating an unlawful operation which is threatening the livelihoods of thousands of regulated taxi drivers.
With all this said, the Transport for London Plan for 2050 which was released in July 2014 hopes to harness the driverless tech to reduce deaths on the road, save money on buses and provide a more efficient service. How this plays out only time will tell but for a heavily compacted area like London, they may just be on to something.