The queen’s well up for driverless cars
The queen did her speech yesterday, which is a great excuse for our Britishness to come out in a vibrant range of ceremonial knickerbockers. The speech is traditionally an announcement of what the government is going to be up to for the next year.
As well as urging us to be careful with our money (I heard she's putting that £1m crown on eBay at the weekend), she mentioned there will be a big focus on driverless cars.
It's a very tricky area to legislate - if I crash, who's to blame? - but Britain has a reputation for keeping up with new tech, so the government clearly wants to be among the first to make a move.
What the government will have to decide
The government has already found that our existing laws allow us to test autonomous vehicles on our roads. Technically, testing could start tomorrow as long as there's a test driver and the car complies with normal road traffic laws. It's kind of a weird concept that there's actually nothing standing in the way of this sci-fi future we've been imagining.
Our review of existing legislation found that our legal framework is not a barrier to the testing of automated vehicles on public roads. Real-world testing of automated technologies is possible in the UK today.
But the real decisions about how our lives will change haven't been made yet. Things like:
- Who has liability when things go wrong - the car owner or the manufacturer?
- What needs to change in our laws about vehicle safety and maintenance?
- Where will standards need to change for how 'well' a car drives?
It's definitely exciting to hear that this year's the year but we're still waiting to find out how much road safety is going to have to change. Until it becomes a bit more real, people are still going to be mighty dubious.