back to article UK.gov flings £30m at driverless car R'n'D, wants plebs to speek their branes

The government is paving the way for driverless cars by launching an open consultation online – and a £30m competition to win funds for research and development into autonomous vehicle technologies. It is estimated that cars with driver assistance features will reach the market in “two to four years”, whilst driverless …

  1. Chazmon

    If your hands are on the wheel it isn't a driverless car. I don't want to be alert when driving I want to be reading a book. Essentially the train experience but actually arrive near my destination and without other people.

    That said I am in that rare category of people who know they are not that good at driving and think a computer would probably do a better job!

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      I'm not too bad at driving, until I get tired - or my kids start playing up.

      A computer could certainly be better at driving than I am.

      The issue is that there are edge cases which we still haven't handled - although these are clearly very rare (as in - already rarer than the cases which humans don't handle).

      One key advantage is that every time we come across such an edge case - every car on the road can take the lessons learnt and apply it consistently into the future.

      The self driving car will come soon, hopefully my kids will never have to learn to drive...

      1. Doctor_Wibble
        Trollface

        > or my kids start playing up

        Total non-problem if you put electrodes on the seatbelts.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Do it do it do it!

      Especially in Eastern Europe ... I'm at the corner of a cross junction on a 1-way main bus route and just saw 2 cars happily *salmoning* up both nearby sections .......

      Another favourite thing here is crashing cars into stationary parked things, sometimes cars, sometimes fatally into road repair crew wagons.

      My neighbour had and A8 or A6 drive at walking pace into his parked company car A3 (which was actually on the grass verge, not the tarmac) and wrote it off, they blundered out of the car doors and abandoned their car and staggered drunkenly and very slowly down the road as if they thought no-one would ever see them! They did try heroically to restart their bigger car to make a (slow) getaway first, but hilariously it wouldn't fire up anymore .....

  2. m0rt

    “Our roads are already some of the safest in the world and increasing advanced driver assist and driverless technologies has the potential to help cut the number of accidents further,”"

    Really, though, is this about 'cut[ing] number of accidents' or more about lobbying and industry making profit in a new area of tech, which has sorely been pushed for the next new thing?

    We saw how powerful the car lobby is after 2008 and the governemental scrappage scheme, as for Google et al, need no explanation.

    1. Anonymous Blowhard

      "is this about 'cut[ing] number of accidents' or more about lobbying and industry making profit in a new area of tech"

      It's not really about either of these things, although they are consequential; the real issue is allowing people to use their personal transport in more flexible ways.

      So commuters can actually get something done whilst commuting and people who like to go to restaurants and have a couple of glasses of wine can get home in their own vehicle without risking a driving ban, and elderly people who are no longer able to drive can still be mobile.

      There are so many good use-cases for fully autonomous vehicles that it's obvious they will happen sooner rather than later now that we have the technology to implement them.

      Google won't be building cars, they'll be licensing their IP in this technology to existing car makers, most of whom are at least a decade behind them.

      1. smudge Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        So commuters can actually get something done whilst commuting and people who like to go to restaurants and have a couple of glasses of wine can get home in their own vehicle without risking a driving ban, and elderly people who are no longer able to drive can still be mobile.

        I think that for a long time to come there will still be a legal requirement for someone in the vehicle to be capable of taking over in the event of an emergency or a systems failure. Think of it like the quailified driver who has to accompany a learner.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "I think that for a long time to come there will still be a legal requirement for someone in the vehicle to be capable of taking over in the event of an emergency or a systems failure."

          Why "IN" the vehicle?

          A remote controller in a centre somewhere would probably be equally as effective, assuming the car has the number of sensors required to give all-round view to keep the AI happy.

          Predator and Reaper spend most of their time flying autonomously with humans only dropping into the loop as needed.

          1. smudge Silver badge

            Why "IN" the vehicle?

            A remote controller in a centre somewhere would probably be equally as effective, assuming the car has the number of sensors required to give all-round view to keep the AI happy.

            I am originally from the Scottish Highlands.

            Things that work effectively in the flatlands - mobile communications, for example - may not work so effectively in challenging terrain.

            There is also, as I said, the possibility of "systems failure", which could be a comms failure.

            In which case either the car fails safe - i.e. stops - in a mid-winter blizzard in the middle of nowhere, or the occupant takes control. I know which I'd prefer!

          2. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Predator and Reaper spend most of their time flying autonomously with humans only dropping into the loop as needed.

            Generally, there's one human for each of those in the air. Will the same be needed for cars? If there's an emergency, getting a "please wait for the next available driver" won't cut it. Given the nature of companies, they will keep staff to a minimum which means "wait"....

      2. inmypjs Silver badge

        "There are so many good use-cases for fully autonomous vehicles that it's obvious they will happen sooner rather than later now that we have the technology to implement them."

        The use cases for star trek transporters are even better, why don't we skip over this autonomous car crap?

        The reality is we don't have the technology to implement autonomous cars, we don't have the technology to recognise human speech better than 95% of the time and that is a piece of piss compared to driving a car, a 5% error rate isn't nearly going to cut it.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Self-driving vehicles mean driverless taxis, and driverless taxis mean lower cost of usage plus a likely increase in availability

      The end effect is highly likely to be far lower car ownership rates (Barcelona reckons possibly 80% reduction in actual car numbers) That in turn is made up by more cars in developing countries.

      The "car lobby" isn't as powerful as you might think.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Alan Brown

        and driverless taxis mean lower cost of usage

        Why? The cost of taxis appears to be set by what they can get away with charging, not the cost basis. Round my way, the taxis are unmpteenth hand, poorly maintained, shared-use cr@pheaps, driven by scruffy, foul-smelling people who speak virtually no English, and whose driving talents lag even their linguistic skills. But the cost is not far off the amount I get charged in Germany to be driven around in a clean, good condition, recent Merc E series by somebody who drives carefully and prudently.

        Now that probably has its routes in the quality of taxi regulation rather than any national stereotypes, but what I infer from it is that if taxis become driverless, then the asset owner (most likely either a financial services company like Lloyds Autolease, or the likes of Google) will again charge what they can get away with.

  3. Nixinkome

    "HAXI" !

  4. RIBrsiq
    Pint

    Here's to it soon changing to "driving with no hands on the wheel, please! In fact, let's take that wheel away before it confuses the poor, squishy meatbag..."

  5. TeeCee Gold badge
    Facepalm

    Still waiting...

    ....for the showstopper.

    At some point, someone will die in an accident involving an autonomous vehicle. At that point the mantra of "even one death is one too many", beloved of the drooling safety nazis, will come out.

    It won't matter that more lives are saved by automation, that's the devil's arithmetic[1] and you're not allowed to do it.

    [1] See also: "You can't put a price on human life" and similar stupid aphorisms.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Still waiting...

      @TeeCee,

      I think you missed this bit?

      But this comes after the world witnessed the first fatal autonomous vehicle crash. Last month, a man driving his 2015 Tesla Model S on Route 27 in Florida crashed into a 18-wheel tractor trailer after he and the computer system failed to spot the trailer.

      1. tin 2

        Re: Still waiting...

        You missed the bit where the fella ALSO failed to spot the trailer. He was supposed to be paying attention with his (ridiculously named autopilot) computer assistance, not letting it drive itself while making a brew or somesuch.

        IMHO this is one of the worst things about the current autonomous cars, I don't think it's any kind of good thing insisting that the driver continues to pay full attention as if driving while enabling them to pay far less or no attention (because humans).

        We need cars that need driving, or cars that drive themselves. Not this halfway house that may well lead to accidents which will lead to some ban/restriction/loss of support.

        Personally I can't wait until driverless cars enable an automated on-demand door-to-door taxi service, but I think that's a few years off, and that assumes we sort the problem that pedestrians/other road users/crims realise they can behave however they like around them.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Still waiting...

          "You missed the bit where the fella ALSO failed to spot the trailer"

          And the bit where a truck-trailer driver turned across oncoming traffic that he was legally required to let past. If he'd been driving within his legal requirements this incident would never have occured.

  6. GlenP Silver badge

    But...

    We were discussing this at the weekend. We can see that autonomous driving in some form will work on major and minor roads, but what happens at the start and end of a journey?

    For example we were parked next to a boat (it was out of the water) in a boatyard. There's no conceivable way an autonomous vehicle could have been instructed to park in that spot, even assuming it had found the yard (down an unmapped private lane) and then dodged all the c**p lying around on the ground.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We're not robots! Highways Agency & Avon and Somerset Police beg to differ.

    30million? Small change when you look at what one Hadecs 3 camera can generate in fines.

    M4 (also on M25) Hadecs 3 Cameras are now operating 24/7 with zero tolerance. Yep, that includes 3am in the morning, a perfect Sunday summer sunset evening with an empty road, with no enforcement signage lit. These latest cameras cover all 4 lanes (including hard shoulder), NO EXCEPTIONS.

    While it can be seen by some as an effective automated enforcement (ed. harassment?) of the masses (applying disproportionally to the poor too) to apply what is 'technically' the law. Its takes no account of driving conditions, traffic speeds around you.

    Upto now, its always been the general consensus (as evidenced by the Press) that if the Smart Motorway Gantry lane speed wasn't showing, there was no enforcement in place, we're now told that's not the case, the bar has been lowered.

    That subtle but 'lazy decision' (ed. revenue decision?) to not paint the Safety Cameras bright yellow (after outcry, they now will be yellow by Oct 2016) in combination with subtly failing to display the National speed limit on the overhead Gantry, seems designed to take advantage of people's natural sense to calculate the perceived dangers around them, and drive accordingly, set the bar low enough to hit as many heads as possible to raise revenue, £100 a pop.

    It's the Powers that be, taking advantage of the current situation until Oct 2016.

    No limit showing, no cameras seen, many would argue that it felt safer sticking to 80mph on an empty motorway, than sticking say, at 68mph (to give you some leeway of 2mph to a strict enforcement of the 70mph national speed limit), as they'd get bored on a long journey, with the potential to miss a potential hazard. The law begs to differ, if you want to avoid been pickpocketed for £100, 68mph is where its currently at.

    Its like churning out cheap daytime TV, yep of course you can fill the airwaves with it, but does it help or enrich people's lives? Nope, and probably adds vasts costs to the NHS regards depression and stress.

    The current policy of strictly enforcing 80mph with NIPs with hidden stealth Hadecs 3 Safety Cameras is a lazy Cash Cow of Epic proportions for Avon and Somerset Police and you won't be traveling faster than 80mph to get a NIP (Notice of Intended prosecution) either.

    To the unaware - Use the stretch of Motorway of the M4, drive past 70mph - expect yours in the post soon, read this, slow down - especially around Bristol.

    1. Ru'

      Re: We're not robots! Highways Agency & Avon and Somerset Police beg to differ.

      Out of interest, how does this apply disproportionally to the poor?

    2. goodjudge

      Re: We're not robots! Highways Agency & Avon and Somerset Police beg to differ.

      ... must ... resist ... the .... troll ... sorry, I just can't.

      "No limit showing, no cameras seen, many would argue that it felt safer sticking to 80mph on an empty motorway,"

      I wouldn't. The motorway speed limit is 70mph unless a variable limit is posted. I learned that a long time before I passed my driving test, and that was 25+ years ago. I don't recall if they had the overhead limit signs back then but they certainly had the metal ones around roadworks. It really is very simple. Most of the rest of the post is just the usual "why is the fascist state stopping me from driving fast?" whine.

      Also I just googled "M4 71mph speeding fines", expecting a torrent of articles about the torrent of fines. Unsurprisingly there were none. I did find a 2015 discussion board entry where someone asked "not sure if this is a myth but...", and all the responses said "it almost certainly is".

      I also found http://www.ukmotorists.com/speeding%20fines2.asp where people appear to be able to post their own conviction details. The lowest I found in a 70mph zone was 78mph - on an dual carriageway, not a motorway - but the majority were well over 85.

      And before you ask, no I don't speed. I have done, but when I bought my current car 7 years ago, it had an MPG display and I quickly adjusted my driving to "get the high score". I rarely do more than 60 on motorways now, even on long journeys. Getting 450-500 miles per tank from a 1.4l hatchback is much more satisfying.

      Cue the downvotes from the petrolheads...

      1. Vic

        Re: We're not robots! Highways Agency & Avon and Somerset Police beg to differ.

        Also I just googled "M4 71mph speeding fines", expecting a torrent of articles about the torrent of fines. Unsurprisingly there were none. I did find a 2015 discussion board entry where someone asked "not sure if this is a myth but...", and all the responses said "it almost certainly is".

        I drove along that stretch a couple of weeks back. I was doing about 80 most of the way.

        Now strictly speaking, my two weeks isn't completely up, so a NIP could arrive in the next couple of days- I'll let you know if it does...

        Vic.

        1. Vic

          Re: We're not robots! Highways Agency & Avon and Somerset Police beg to differ.

          I drove along that stretch a couple of weeks back. I was doing about 80 most of the way.

          It's over a fortnight since I posted that, and nearly a month since the trip in question.

          No NIP.

          So we can categoricaly state that the OP's claims about those cameras on the M4 are completely false.

          Vic.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Re: We're not robots! Highways Agency & Avon and Somerset Police beg to differ.

      God where do I start (other than ripping up your Daily Mail)

      M4 (also on M25) Hadecs 3 Cameras are now operating 24/7 with zero tolerance. Yep, that includes 3am in the morning, a perfect Sunday summer sunset evening with an empty road, with no enforcement signage lit. These latest cameras cover all 4 lanes (including hard shoulder), NO EXCEPTIONS.

      Odd that the speed limit applies 24/7/365

      While it can be seen by some as an effective automated enforcement (ed. harassment?) of the masses (applying disproportionally to the poor too) to apply what is 'technically' the law. Its takes no account of driving conditions, traffic speeds around you.

      How does it disproportionately affect the poor when it is a fixed fine?

      Upto now, its always been the general consensus (as evidenced by the Press) that if the Smart Motorway Gantry lane speed wasn't showing, there was no enforcement in place, we're now told that's not the case, the bar has been lowered.

      Citation please.

      I always believed the speed limit was the last sign posted one. Repeaters are only required in certain circumstances

      That subtle but 'lazy decision' (ed. revenue decision?) to not paint the Safety Cameras bright yellow ...... and drive accordingly, set the bar low enough to hit as many heads as possible to raise revenue, £100 a pop.

      There has NEVER been a requirement to paint them yellow or advertise the fact there are cameras

      "It's the Powers that be, taking advantage of the current situation until Oct 2016.

      No limit showing, no cameras seen, many would argue that it felt safer sticking to 80mph on an empty motorway, than sticking say, at 68mph (to give you some leeway of 2mph to a strict enforcement of the 70mph national speed limit),....."

      "If your speedo is saying 70 mph, the chances are you are doing around 65mph. So in order to be doing over 70mph, your speedo will be reading close on 80mph."

      Why do you feel obliged to only stick to the limit when you see a camera or see a road sign.

      Take it you know unlit and lit roads have default limits, unless stated otherwise don't you?

      Its like churning out cheap daytime TV, yep of course you can fill the airwaves with it, but does it help or enrich people's lives? Nope, and probably adds vasts costs to the NHS regards depression and stress.

      Really you go to hospital with stress because you can't drive 70mph?

      The current policy of strictly enforcing 80mph with NIPs with hidden stealth Hadecs 3 Safety Cameras is a lazy Cash Cow of Epic proportions for Avon and Somerset Police and you won't be traveling faster than 80mph to get a NIP (Notice of Intended prosecution) either.

      Enforcing 80mph? It's a 70 limit FFS

      "To the unaware - Use the stretch of Motorway of the M4, drive past 70mph - expect yours in the post soon, read this, slow down - especially around Bristol."

      No drive up to the speed limit you prick, no need to slow down.

      1. Yugguy

        Re: We're not robots! Highways Agency & Avon and Somerset Police beg to differ.

        70mph is a completely arbitrary, decades-old value that bears no relation to real world events - time, weather, traffic.

        A friend has a new Merc with the 9G box. At 80mph the engine is doing 1350rpm, so the pollution/mpg argument is immaterial. Yes, in heavy traffic/bad weather etc. of course he should do 60, or 50 and the limits should enforce that. But quiet, clear, late, why not 80mph, as in some other countries?

        Ever been on the M6 toll round Birmingham? Quiet, few cars, visibility for miles ahead. It is no more dangerous on that road to do 80 than to do 70.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We're not robots! Highways Agency & Avon and Somerset Police beg to differ.

        So its all right to call someone a prick on a public forum, but not OK for anyone to ever either intentionally or mistakenly drive at 80mph on a clear empty Motorway during off peak hours?

        Not sure which is more of a public nuisance, you or the driver, but you lost your argument right there.

        The post was making sure drivers fully know there are Hadecs 3 Cameras now operating the in UK acting as cash cows to the uninformed, without local knowledge.

        Its not about speeding, its about making sure people are aware of whats a play here, that limits are been strictly enforced when Gantry signs are unlit, that's the gripe here.

        That's a subtle change in the enforcement, as technology takes over from Traffic Police. You want 100% enforcement, then give people 100% of the information to avoid breaking that enforcement, don't do things by stealth.

        Its Lazy Policing, prosecutions taking place for minor breaches <80mph 24/7, this type of automated mass enforcement is about tripping people up, clipping heads just because 'Police have the automated tech now and can'

        Not sure what Motorways you have driven, but actual Traffic Police don't even bother with anyone for 80mph on Motorways, many pass Patrol cars at 80mph, just to prevent bottlenecks behind the Police vehicle doing 70mph, that's the reality.

        As long as people are aware of the current enforcement methods such as Hadecs -stick to limits - they can save themselves £100, that's all this about. Its actually about informing beforehand, to slow cars.

        Police should use the information signs to inform drivers Hadecs 3 Cameras are operating 24/7 and strict enforcement is in place via Hadecs, but no, this doesn't happen. Why? because its all become about not releasing that info to the public, because its now about how much revenue can be generated to pay for more Police Cameras and about subtle policy changes regarding enforcement, to generate more revenue.

        (Hadecs 2 cameras were only licenced by the Home Office for enforcement of speed restrictions, that subtly changed to all enforcement with Hadecs 3, people should be told)

        It ain't about Safety anymore, its obvious to any member of the pubkic.

        The public, I might add Police need to keep 'onside'.

  8. nijam

    You thought our speed limits were bad? Wait until our roads are completely clarted up with driverless cars going at a safe margin (I'd expect 5mph or so) below the speed limit.

    It's more likely that the driverless car nonsense is about forcing more people to use public transport. (Improvements to public transport obviously having been ruled out, we instead see an apparently never-ending sequence of inconveniences and costs to discourage personal transport.)

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "we instead see an apparently never-ending sequence of inconveniences and costs to discourage personal transport."

      A lot of london commuters are finding the inconvenience and cost of using public transport is pushing them back into private transport (southern railways). When the public transport provider's timetable bears less resemblence to reality than an avant garde poem, people start losing their jobs (no, not the Southern managers, people who rely on the transport to get to work)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        driverless trains have been possible for some years, but (a) accidents will happen, they always do, and (b) the pay-off needed to avoid wholesale strike action would be eye-watering ..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Rubbish.

      If all cars become auto driving, then you could get more cars in the same space, all running faster.

      Something tells me that a computer could react faster and smarter than a human.

      1. jrchips

        As always, "it depends".

        Road capacity depends on the space between cars. So what safety margin will autonomous vehicles use when following another? Three seconds behind the car in front, two seconds, or something else? The first is the conservative recommendation from departments of transportation in a number of countries. At 60 mph, and assuming 16 ft per car, that translates into 16 car lengths. Even two seconds, a concession for dry roads and perfect visibility, translates into 11 car lengths. At 40 mph the distances are 11 car lengths and 7 car lengths respectively. But nobody I know follows those rules, especially in rush hour traffic. Not even close. So do driverless car algorithms ignore theses recommendations? If so, on what basis?

        Oh, I know the arguments. Driverless cars will seamlessly communicate with each other so it's OK to run them as a train, right? All the manufacturers are going to agree to one communication standard, accept unchecked the info from the car in front and all will respond instantly to whatever the lead car is doing, Sure! But at this point that's a total fantasy.

        So what 'gap' will the designers choose? My bet is it will be conservative, for liability reasons if nothing else, and, as a consequence there will be lots of complaints about regular drivers cutting into the gap. The end result is that driverless cars will, at least initially, reduce road capacity not increase it.

  9. Toltec

    Numerical laws

    I am thinking of other laws which have numerical limits to determine legality.

    Age related such as drinking, sex and of course driving. Something which is easy to determine, precise control on approach to limit and with a single inflexion between states.

    Working hours, driving goods vehicles is the obvious one, easy to determine, monitor and fine control at the limit possible, repeated inflexion points, but status determined on a scale of hours.

    Drink drive limit, difficult to determine on a continuous basis and a lot of lag between input and result, lack of control on approach to limit means a large leeway is required so effective limit much lower.

    Air quality

    Noise

    Are there any other laws which require humans to control a value related to legality so closely as speed? At some point the control needed is going to be like walking with a broom balanced on an outstretched arm, you can take the easy option of leaving the broom on the floor and pushing it along with your foot, but that gets tiring and it will take you a long time to get anywhere.

  10. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    "Some of the safest roads..."

    To say that the UK has 'some of the safest roads in the world' doesn't cover the half of it! Globally the UK is 3= in the list of lowest fatalities per capita, on a par with Kiribati, and narrowly behind Sweden and Micronesia (and does Micronesia actually have any roads?)

    That is something to be pretty proud of.

    If properly used (N.B. important phrase there) I suspect driverless cars may reduce this further, but only in certain situations, and the software/driver must know which situations AREN'T appropriate. Motorways probably very good. Mountain roads in rural Wales with the odd wandering sheep and timber lorry, probably not so good.

    Driverless could be nice on long journeys, but I'll miss slamming the accelerator down on the 944 and zooming past some blasted sunday driver!

    1. Nick Kew

      Re: "Some of the safest roads..."

      It isn't something to be that proud of, when that safety comes at the expense of so many kids being stuck at home because their parents don't dare to let them out. Not to mention my late neighbour - who could walk only slowly on two sticks - being stuck at home because parked cars block the pavements and going round them was too hazardous.

      De-facto house arrest for the vulnerable is a terrible price to pay for the relative safety of the more-privileged.

  11. Nick Kew

    Mobility

    Isn't one of the big motivators here supposed to be mobility? Reduce the number of people socially-excluded by virtue of being medically unable to drive.

  12. Yugguy

    I'm too old for this.

    Well I'm only 46 but I know I could never relax enough to truly trust a driverless car.

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: I'm too old for this.

      Drive yourself to the pub, on the way back after 10 pints, you'll be perfectly relaxed.

  13. Commswonk Silver badge

    There May Be Trouble Ahead...

    It is estimated that cars with driver assistance features will reach the market in “two to four years”, whilst driverless vehicles will hit UK roads in the 2020s.

    Scenario 1: An "assistance feature" results in a "self - parking car" causing damage to a stationary vehicle. In the case of a human driver hitting another non - moving vehicle means that all the blame attaches to the driver of the moving vehicle. Who or what is responsible if the parking was being carried out by an "assistance feature"? The feature itself? The driver who trusted it?

    Scenario 2: A "driverless" vehicle is involved in a collision with another moving vehicle. Is the unfortunate "real" driver of the other vehicle going to be held at fault regardless? How do you put a piece of software in the witness box to cross - examine it?

    From my viewpoint there are known unknowns that really ought to be addressed before any material changes are made to the extent of driver involvement in and responsibility for the safe operation of a motor vehicle.

    I wouldn't want to be the first driver hauled into court on the basis that <manufacturer's> software simply cannot be held responsible, and thus neither can <manufacturer>.

    As has been mentioned previously on this and other "technology" subjects it looks like a case of politicians being bamboozled by slick salesmen into rushing into decisions that really deserve much more thought.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe in the south ..

    But up here in Canada where ice and snow are the real challenge there's no way i want a car without a wheel .. or even try to use an autonomous system. Plus i got two issues ..

    A) You really want the government to know where you are at all times ? ( Big Brother anyone )

    with complete history of all the places you go , hence a record of everyone you go see ? ( On top of cell lover's ( i dont want a leish so i don't have one ) communications and phone call data.

    B) Would you trust driverless cars when we know how often electronics go haywire particularly in varyiing weather conditions ( heat and cold ) . Add to that mechanical failures and tell me you're comfy letting a piece of junk make life and death decisions about you ?

    That's not taking into consideration the potential for hacking and takeover.

    Example of a takeover .. cops overriding your controls , hackers overriding and making you slam a wall at 100 mph.

    Autonomous cars look good on paper but they're far from being good or reassuring in practice .

    I say 10 more years research and development before you leave em loose on the road and extremely intensive and complete testing by transport safety agencies.

    Even then i will never get one. I prefer the safety of my own driving ,keeping my hands in control of my destiny and big government out of my life.

  15. Bob Dole (tm)
    Facepalm

    But why?

    There is a huge profit potential for companies to deliver driverless cars. So much so that this is why the big guys are on it and a tremendous amount of investor funds is already in that market.

    Point is: there is absolutely no reason for a government to spend tax payer funds trying to encourage inventors to solve this problem.

    Whether you like driverless cars or not is a moot point. They are coming. Yes, there will be problems and yes those problems will be solved. I think this is a prime example of where government should get out of the way and let the free market work like it's supposed to.

    Instead the government should focus their resources on promoting solutions to problems that aren't as sexy but are still worth doing.

    1. Bob Rocket

      Re: But why?

      The profit is in moving freight.

      Driverless juggernaughts in massive convoys hammering down the (now restricted) outside lane of the motorway from one automated national distribution hub to the next free from drivers and the Drivers Hours rules

      https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/409716/staying-legal-HGV.pdf

      Driverless flatbed trucks feed from national hubs to local hubs where goods are distributed to end-user via driverless electric vehicle in towns/cities or driven ICE transits in rural areas.

      Logistics accounts for around 5% of GDP, any savings in this area directly impacts the bottom line.

      Driverless cars are a luxury product that will be hugely expensive* at first and so will only appear on high end models, it will be a long time before they are the majority sellers.

      *expensive is of course relative, say £20K to 'driverless' a vehicle makes it uneconomic on a Ford Fiesta however on a £120K truck the annual savings on one drivers wages alone would be around £30K.

      A driverless truck could run 24/7, you would need three drivers to achieve that level of service so the savings are more like £90K per year per truck.

      I can't afford a driverless car, the truck company can't afford to not have driverless trucks.

      1. Toltec

        Re: But why?

        "I can't afford a driverless car, the truck company can't afford to not have driverless trucks."

        The same logic does not appear to apply to trains, particularly underground ones, they are much simpler to automate and the drivers cost a lot more.

        I agee though, trunk route distribution of non-hazardous loads would seem to be an obvious first step.

      2. Bob Dole (tm)

        Re: But why?

        Somehow I feel like you didn't actually understand my comment.

        I know why driverless cars/trucks are coming and I certainly welcome the coming change. What I don't understand is why the government is bothering to put tax payer money towards the effort. Private industry is already making it a reality. Which means that any money the government puts towards it is essentially wasted.

        The purpose of a government funding development is to encourage people and businesses to put effort into an area they might otherwise overlook. Big money is already in this arena....

  16. harmjschoonhoven
    WTF?

    Full circle

    The car is evolving from a horseless carriage to a driverless car with the intelligence of a horse.

    1. Toltec

      Re: Full circle

      We already have plenty of cars driven "with the intelligence of a horse" so that really won't be an issue.

  17. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    FAIL

    "first fatal autonomous vehicle crash."

    NO!!!! The point has been made time and time again both in El Reg articles and by commentards that a Tesla S IS NOT AN AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE

    It's enhanced cruise control at best. Don't you read the articles on your own site?

  18. Mike 137 Bronze badge

    a real test please

    Before we assume, as this consultation seems to do, that autonomous vehicles are "the way forward" and all we have to consider are a few procedural and regulatory issues, I'd like to see the following test performed at least once (preferably more than once:

    take around 200 autonomous vehicles and set them off in the rush hour alongside other traffic down the six roads to enter the Hemel Hempstead Plough Roundabout (National Grid ref: TL0549706394) with the aim of crossing the roundabout and exiting on various different roads. Then see what happens.

    This roundabout consists of six mini-roundabouts surrounding a bidirectional central roundabout, and is quite a challenge for human drivers when it's busy. Any fool computer can drive down a motorway in steady traffic, but this would test its capacities realistically.

    1. FlossyThePig

      Re: a real test please

      Are you proposing this as an equivalent Turing Test for Level 5 autonomous vehicles?

  19. F0rdPrefect

    Will they still work when they lose internet connection?

    Or GPS?

    Or both at once?

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