back to article Level 5 driverless cars by 2021 can be done, say Brit industry folk

Over the weekend, chancellor Philip Hammond boasted that “fully driverless cars” would be on Britain’s roads in four years’ time. Some in the driverless car industry think this is a dangerous fantasy, while more high-profile driverless car software companies are all in favour of it. The chancellor’s announcement was made as …

  1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    Wake me up when I can drive a car to the pub and legally have it run me home.

    My guess is the temperance movement will want that to be banned regardless so as not to promote drinking. If that obstacle ever gets surmounted, let me know.

    1. 0laf Silver badge

      @ disgustedoftunbridgewells - "Wake me up when I can drive a car to the pub and legally have it run me home."

      Bingo. That's what I want too. Autonomous cars save the country pub!

      I'm also sure there is a market for cars that can drive people who are unlicensed or incapable of driving.

      That would be a genuine game changer for some. Physically incapable of driving but can set a route on an accessible app/device which can be sent to the car and can drive own wheelchair into car.

      More practically I can see convoys of autonomous trucks on designated motorway lanes running through the night. They'd stop at local depots and hand over to humans who will drive through towns filled with similarly unpredictable humans but in an easier to insure way.

      But personally I favour the pub idea.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        @ 0laf

        Game changer for me if car able to take those physically incapable of driving - partner & I (whoever is available for that appointment) currently spend a lot of our "free" time essentially being a taxi service for ill relatives to doctors / hospital as public transport dismal and taxis extortionate.

        ...Being realistic, I doubt "sit back and let the AI do it all vehicles" will be avaialble when I'm too old to drive safely

        1. Zare

          Game changer or killer app for or me is, that I can go to a city center to take care of something (pick up package from post/shop/dentist...) and during that time car will drive around the block, as there is never parking place available where and when i need it. When I am done, I can summon the car to appear where I need it.

          Short term parking place solution in other words.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Exactly...

        The benefits are immense... and it's true 'drinking' is at the top of the list:

        Can drive you home when you're too drunk to drive

        Can come get you when you want a 'taxi'

        Can drive people with mobility issues / sight issues

        Can take control of heavy tonnage vehicles and drive at night time, freeing up daytime traffic for commuters

        Can go pick up your kids for you or shuttle them to their sports / school / activities.

        Will also pretty much dispense with the need for a personal vehicle since you just 'call' one on demand, so in theory, less traffic, more parking, less accidents.

        I also think there'll be lots of negatives, mainly the car industry, since not everyone will need a car now, and noone needs to learn to drive, so that whole industry will tank. Include taxis, road freight and even today's uber drivers will disappear we'll have this massive pool of unskilled labor that we'll have to re-train to do 'something'...

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Exactly...

          "Will also pretty much dispense with the need for a personal vehicle since you just 'call' one on demand"

          You can call and call but if you're calling at peak times you might have to wait a couple of hours.

        2. Smooth Newt
          Pint

          Re: Exactly...

          Will also pretty much dispense with the need for a personal vehicle since you just 'call' one on demand, so in theory, less traffic, more parking, less accidents.

          I am not sure I want to share a car with the remains of the previous occupant's kebab or worse, as it looks like the major use case is taking pissed people home. At least a taxi driver cares passionately about keeping his vehicle clean because he has to sit in it too.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Exactly...

            "I am not sure I want to share a car with the remains of the previous occupant's kebab or worse, as it looks like the major use case is taking pissed people home."

            It's hard to disagree with the imagery you just created, but on the other hand, just how many people really are that pissed or that inconsiderate on a night out? Is it really as bad as you portray or is that more of an impression caused by how people always remember the outliers?

            Assuming most people end up using on-demand self-driving cars, then you will have a choice as to which company to go with. No doubt there will be a range of options. Some cars made all cheap and plastic and can be hosed out like a superloo by driving to a cleaning station, others may have people who do the cleaning. It's not beyond the whit of man to include sensors which can detect when people have vomited in a car. It tends to be smelly.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Exactly...

          Oh yes, I can't wait - I could send the car to the drive-through with a post-it on the window. And if you can give it schedules, it can get there before breakfast is over.

        4. Peter Ford

          Re: Exactly...

          Forget the rest, just this:

          "Can go pick up your kids for you or shuttle them to their sports / school / activities."

          If that was the only thing self-driving vehicles were legally allowed to do on our roads it would be enough for me!

      3. wolfetone Silver badge

        "I'm also sure there is a market for cars that can drive people who are unlicensed or incapable of driving."

        And here in lies the elephant in the room when it comes to these driverless cars. It does, obviously, have the potential to bring millions of people back on the road. However, even today, roads are struggling to cope with the number of cars already on there. Plus London and (for some reason) Birmingham really don't want cars coming in to the city centres. They want you to use cattle trucks what pass for buses and trains to get there.

        There's also the issue with charging the cars. Sure, plug them in to the grid. Well the grid is under pressure every winter, getting more so really, so how will that cope? Plus where do you park them? There are apartments being built in one part of Birmingham where there will be 200 apartments built but only room for 80 cars. So we can park them outside in the city or suburbs, but then we need charging points all around the place to cope with that. Then, say on a long journey and you need a bit of juice, where do you charge them? Can you imagine, with the increase in cars, the queue at the former-petrol-stations-turned-leccy-stations?

        I think, if they do hit the road, then they will be the preserve of taxis and ambulances ferrying patients from home to the hospital for an appointment. I don't think, unfortunately, Joe Public will get them.

        1. jmch Silver badge

          "It does, obviously, have the potential to bring millions of people back on the road. However, even today, roads are struggling to cope with the number of cars already on there."

          It could get more people on the road but its not clear it would get more cars on the road. Currently most cars are privately owned and driven point to point with often the driver being the only occupant. With driverless cars you would either have multi-passenger vehicles or else driverless pods (essentially tiny 1-person cars used for commuters unwilling to share their space) that occupy much less space on the roads .Having a completely new technology such as driverless cars and continuiing to use them in the same way as human-driven cars does not make sense (althogh car ownership has a strong cultural status / significance among many people)

          "Plus where do you park them?"

          As above, more people does not necessarily mean more cars. Also, driverless allows them to be parked further away from the origin/destination as they can be called when needed, so there is plenty of scope for finding enough parking spaces.

          "There's also the issue with charging the cars"

          It's not a given that driverless cars will be electric, they can well be ICE or hybrid, In any case, yes, with increased use of electric cars, grid capacity will need to massively increase.

          "Then, say on a long journey and you need a bit of juice, where do you charge them? Can you imagine, with the increase in cars, the queue at the former-petrol-stations-turned-leccy-stations?"

          Motorway petrol stations currently have 8-12 pumps and hundreds of parking spots, the physical space is there. If it takes 5 minutes to fill a tank and 30 minutes to charge a car it would require 50-60 charging spots if all vehicles are electric. We're still a few years from charging a battery in 30 minutes, but then again we're years away from phasing out ICEs. Yes, it will require big investment in infrastructure over 20-30 years, but no more different to the investment in petrol stations over the years.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I'm not sure you can argue that "driverless pods" will take up less road space than a car, as most of the space taken up by any vehicle is actually the safe stopping distance in front and behind it. You can use this argument for trains of pods on motorways, but that mode of operation probably won't be useful in urban commuter environments where a lot of the congestion is.

            We already have shared ownership schemes for conventional vehicles and it hasn't revolutionised motoring - there's really no reason to assume most people will suddenly take to it just because the cars involved are autonomous. Where there will be new takeup of shared ownership AVs it will be from people who cannot drive, but that's really only going to move passengers from public to private transport. This will increase traffic overall as cars take up more space per passenger than buses do.

            If driverless cars take themselves further away to park, it will mean they are staying on the road longer. You can also bet that some driverless car users will tell the vehicles to keep driving around nearby to facilitate a quick pickup, rather than letting the machine park at a distant location and having to wait for it to come back. Both of these things would tend to increase traffic as driverless cars became more common, even if the numbers of passengers remained static (which they won't).

            I'd also suggest that keeping traffic flowing is one thing that human drivers are actually very good at. They will often cede "right of way" to let oncoming traffic pass, especially in unusual situations (e.g. a stopped vehicle blocking one side of the road). The communication between drivers that permits the temporary bending of normal road rules can be quite subtle, so I suspect AVs might get stuck in situations that a human driver would negotiate quite easily - possibly creating a tailback nehind the AV as a result. The worst case scenario is two AVs getting mutually stuck in opposite directions, causing gridlock.

            My gut feeling is that increasing use of AVs will massively increase congestion.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              A large part of 'safe stopping distance' is due to very very slow human reactions. Another factor is lack of information.

              Smart cars sharing information about local hazards could react in milliseconds instead of seconds. It changes the game, considerably.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Ever tried driving in heavy congestion with adaptive cruise control turned on? Do it and I bet you'll turn it off again in very short order because the ride is just f'ing annoying. Constant cycles of acceleration followed followed by braking as it tries to maintain a fixed gap. Much smoother with a human at the controls (generally speaking). Granted the tech is probably rather crude compared to what is being developed for AV's however I personally suspect that most people who drive themselves today will find being driven around in an AV a frustrating and stress inducing experience.

                1. imanidiot Silver badge

                  @AC

                  adaptive cruise control is not intended for use during congestion. At those time it is indeed better to try to maintain a constant speed (something humans fail to do very often too, which is also a CAUSE of heavy congestion, slow traffic and accidents)

                  1. JetSetJim Silver badge

                    Re: @AC @imanidiot

                    > Ever tried driving in heavy congestion with adaptive cruise control turned on? Do it and I bet you'll turn it off again in very short order because the ride is just f'ing annoying

                    I suspect ACC is getting better and better. I just got a new car with it and it's perfectly ok in congestion and I suspect is at least trying to maintain a gap proportional to the speed as in slow traffic it closes the gap to a few feet. Equally it's wary of undertaking with a large gap in front of me, but less concerned if there is a small gap in front. It's pretty good in city traffic, too. The only annoying bit is in mild-to-heavy traffic on multi-lane as it starts to slow down quite early with a slower moving vehicle in front, meaning you have to pull out a lot earlier than you might normally do, but it does seem to take account of relative velocity when pulling out behind a faster moving vehicle, so it doesn't instantly brake.

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              "You can use this argument for trains of pods on motorways, but that mode of operation probably won't be useful in urban commuter environments where a lot of the congestion is."

              I don't see why not. The linkage between vehicle is virtual. There's no reason a line of cars/pods can't be driving along with inches between them at slow city speeds in a snake-like formation getting most of it's advance data from the front vehicle. Most are going more or less the same way and when a car/pod needs to turn off, it and the ones behind only need to slow a little to give it room to manoeuvre. Even if we still use existing traffic light systems, a platooned line of cars can all start moving at the same time so more will get through the junction before the lights change back. With manual cars, you are relying on people paying attention and all pulling off one at a time, after the one in front has started.

              Most of the improvements will only happen when there's a critical mass of self-driving vehicles and manuals are banned from city centres and/or other zoned areas.

          2. veti Silver badge

            "Where do you park them?" is, I think, the best use case of all for driverless cars. Because you can park them wherever you like.

            Car takes you to work in the morning - you tell it to go away, as far away as necessary to find a free parking spot, then come back and pick you up at 5 p.m. Or you can send it home to park safely in your garage, until it's time to come and pick you up. It'll take a while, but within 20 years or so commercial car parks will be a thing of the past - no-one will pay anything to leave their car anywhere for more than a couple of hours, max.

            Of course, the next logical step is to stop owning a car entirely, and rely solely on Uber/whoever's driverless fleet to ferry you about on demand. But that's a whole further step.

            1. Daniel 18

              "Of course, the next logical step is to stop owning a car entirely, and rely solely on Uber/whoever's driverless fleet to ferry you about on demand. But that's a whole further step."

              That is only a feasible step for some use cases.

              In other cases, long term control of a vehicle is useful or necessary. Given charging schemes that may involve rental, leasing, or ownership, the economics of which must be analyzed on a case by case basis.

              Consider someone who leaves home for the office (with a computer and other work related materials), then goes from the office to a scuba lesson (with 50 kg of scuba gear), then goes to a late dinner in entirely different clothing...

              Or the person who goes out for a day that includes some photography with $15,000 worth of cameras and lenses, secured in the car when not in use... possible a work day with recreational photography, possibly a photographic assignment followed by non-photographic relaxation. Trust me, you do not want to constantly babysit even one $5,000 camera/lens combo when you don't have to.

              Or the person who goes off for a weekend, or a week, in the woods, for some relaxed hunting, where the car serves to store food, camping gear, guns, and ammunition.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            It is far more likely that future cars will be hybrid, internal combustion, or external combustion.

            A recent Swedish study estimates that the carbon footprint for manufacturing a car battery pack is equivalent to 8 years of driving a conventional vehicle... and I believe I have seen that the life of such a pack is 5 to 7 years... all that before accounting for electricity generation.

            Using a hybrid, ICE or ECE means refilling in minimal time, from existing infrastructure. That also gets around the significant range limitations, which are likely to be even more crippling when the temperature hits -20.

            Win, win win.

            1. FlossyThePig

              A recent Swedish study

              Fake news?

              https://cleantechnica.com/2017/06/22/swedish-ev-battery-study-sucks/

              Points to ponder:

              - What is the carbon footprint for manufacturing an ICE and gearbox?

              - How much electricity is consumed by refining oil to produce petrol?

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "Yes, it will require big investment in infrastructure over 20-30 years, but no more different to the investment in petrol stations over the years."

            On the contrary, the infrastructure will be much more expensive, complex, and failure prone.

            And dangerous... indirectly.

            Various problems - ice storms, electric grid failures, hurricanes, floods, forest fires - knock out the electric grid for days or weeks at a time, even in well prepared first world countries. When that happens, gas and diesel vehicles can still be refueled, whether by connecting a generator to a gas station pump, or by bringing in fuel trucks or containers of fuel... which helps a lot with coping with an actual or potential disaster. If most of your vehicles are electric, everything is going to be immobilized pretty quickly. And I shudder to think what could happen to an evacuation if electric vehicles start running out of power on the roads.

        2. Commswonk Silver badge

          @ wolfetone: There's also the issue with charging the cars. Sure, plug them in to the grid. Well the grid is under pressure every winter, getting more so really, so how will that cope?

          I know I risk being accused of pedantry but I'm not sure how true the statement is. Generating capacity is certainly under pressure, but whether the grid - i.e. the distribution network - is under pressure is less clear.

          However, if electric vehicles do form a significant part of the total the grid certainly will come under severe pressure then. IIRC this house has an 80 Amp fuse on the incoming supply, which is about half of what it would need to be for a fast charger to be included. Then of course there is the bonkers government scheme to move away from gas for domestic heating, and that will require another 30 kW or so from the supply. OK let's have a 300 Amp fuse on the incomer, along with all the neighbours having the same.

          It's a toss - up as to what would fail* first; the underground cable feeding us or the substation. The whole thing reeks of "politician think" rather than "engineer think" and as we all know from experience the engineering view will be ignored as being too "negative".

          Thinking about it, with all the demand that could fall on the electricity industry I suspect that cables to estates would be of such a diameter that they couldn't be drummed ready for transport and installation; the coiling radius would simply be too big.

          * spectacularly

          Edit: @ jmch: I think you're a bit wide of the mark in your comment about the investment comparison with conventional petrol stations; petrol stations don't need a truly humungous electrical cable supplying them; their "electric only" counterparts will.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "However, if electric vehicles do form a significant part of the total the grid certainly will come under severe pressure then. IIRC this house has an 80 Amp fuse on the incoming supply"

            This is the start of a good analysis.

            Other things to consider... you are looking at charging at home, or work, I suspect.

            Charging on trips is a bigger issue. Consider a fueling station on an expressway with about 20 pumps, capable of recharging a vehicle with enough gas for another 800 km of driving in less than five minutes. Most quotes for projected electric vehicles seem to be about 250 to 350 km for range... which means on a trip you will have to refuel three times as often... and it takes a lot longer. You would require hundreds of charging stations at each fueling station to handle the same expressway traffic...

            Specifics -

            A Tesla 'supercharger' provides about 450 km of range (IF you get the claimed range!) in 75 minutes, at 120 KW output (so the input will be more), or so says the maker... so you need 30 superchargers in two carefully situated refueling plazas to replace 1 gas pump. The nominal draw would be .120MW x 30 = 3.6 megawatts, plus overheads for losses... call it roughly 4 MW. A plaza with 20 pumps can be replaced by two plazas with 600 charging stations, each plaza drawing about 36 MW for chargers alone. I predict fun with wiring as transmission lines are strung out all over the countryside to connect these refueling stops with generation facilities.

            Nasty reality:

            You can do a 1,000 km trip in a day with a gas or diesel powered vehicle, but adding two or three 80 minute stops for charging makes it a much more difficult proposition. Given that sometimes I have done such trips in almost constant freezing rain and snow, running heaters, fans, wipers, etc, I rather doubt that I would get 450 km out of a battery, which would just mean more charging time and more charging stops... and more charging plazas.

          2. Peter Ford

            It doesn't have to strain the grid...

            With a little bit of investment, each charging station could have on-site generation using the same sort of fuel that is dispensed by petrol stations: burning the petrol, diesel or anything else that can be bulk transported to the site could probably be done cleaner than running an ICE in every vehicle, maybe with a gas-turbine generator...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: It doesn't have to strain the grid...

              "each charging station could have on-site generation using the same sort of fuel that is dispensed by petrol stations"

              In general, small thermodynamic power generation units are less efficient and more costly per Kw than large ones. You may win on not laying cable, but lose on fuel, pollution, capital cost, maintenance, reliability, and thernal efficiency, compared to large central generators.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "And here in lies the elephant in the room when it comes to these driverless cars. It does, obviously, have the potential to bring millions of people back on the road."

          That's the beauty of it.

          Get rid of obsolete buses, streetcars, taxis, and replace them with vehicles that increase flexibility and options.

          Convert transit-ways and streetcar tracks to 'autonomous control only' routes for express routing.

          Use integrated local traffic control to improve traffic flow and reduce accidents, with automatic re-routing around problems.

          Optimize delivery schedules and routes for material goods to minimize impact on peak human movement activity.

          Provide facilities for sharing vehicles serially or concurrently (mode selected by users) to maximize effective throughput.

          Use smaller vehicles to avoid shuffling empty seats around - a 20% full bus is a waste of space and energy. Avoid unnecessary vehicle re-positioning.

          Optimize use of secondary routes and roads on a dynamic adaptive basis.

          Minimize on street parking to provide more traffic lanes... use 'auto-valet' parking or sharing of vehicles to reduce need for parking.

          Use data from vehicles, with appropriate modeling, to plan new roads.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            It might interest you all

            To know that at least 40% of people dont live in big cities with infrastructure

            To go shopping from my parents involves a 20 mile each way trip

            As saturday's is the only day the bus runs local, instead of from the next village 5 miles away, how long would they have to wait for their AV?

            hint, village has 50 houses, average 3 people per house, all will probably shop on Saturdays as that's market day in the town

            Not so easy as you think, and add Surge Pricing as it's a good tax on the use of AV's

            Doubt anyone outside London or Manchester size city's will want it

            Newmarket Taxi's has a Tesla BTW, ask them how it fares?

      4. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        @Olaf - Many who can not drive for medical reasons are not confined to a wheelchair. So are quite ambulatory. But still a game changer if it occurs in the next few years.

        However I doubt it will occur in 4 years (40 might more likely) as there are numerous issues to be learned and resolved.

      5. coppice

        @0laf - "I'm also sure there is a market for cars that can drive people who are unlicensed or incapable of driving."

        I'm amused that you see those as two separate groups.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "@0laf - "I'm also sure there is a market for cars that can drive people who are unlicensed or incapable of driving."

          I'm amused that you see those as two separate groups."

          Perhaps because they are two different groups?

          There are actually four groups:

          licensed and capable of driving

          licensed and incapable of driving

          unlicensed and capable of driving

          unlicensed and incapable of driving

          The latter three can all use the services of a level 5 vehicle.

          I should have thought that was fairly obvious.

        2. imanidiot Silver badge

          @coppice

          since a license has a pretty long expiry period, and a lot of things can happen to an able bodied person to render them incapable of driving, it's quite likely there is a group of people out there who are licensed but incapable of driving. Strictly speaking they can be separate groups. There is however major overlap between the 2 ofcourse.

      6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "I'm also sure there is a market for cars that can drive people who are unlicensed or incapable of driving."

        Level 5, the subject of the article, is defined as "steering wheel optional, full self-control in all conditions", so in theory you should not need a driving licence to be a passenger in one as "Johnny" takes you to your destination, especially if it's a model without the optional steering wheel.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "If that obstacle ever gets surmounted, let me know."

      In the past - rural communities used a horse which knew its way home.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "In the past - rural communities used a horse which knew its way home."

        They weren't too good at keeping the rider on their back. There's even a record of a vicar being killed falling from his horse returning from a bishop's visitation.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "They weren't too good at keeping the rider on their back. There's even a record of a vicar being killed falling from his horse returning from a bishop's visitation."

          Never trust a horse. They're evil, dangerous, and unpredictable. Just ask Garrett.

      2. Chris G Silver badge

        "In the past - rural communities used a horse which knew its way home."

        When a horse while eating is distracted by something that it needs to look at and listen to, it will stop chewing because it's brain is unable to process eating and paying attention to a potential threat etc, at the same time.

        The horse is nevertheless still way smarter than your AV will be, the exhaust is good for your roses too.

    3. Sykowasp

      That's pretty much my use-case for driverless cars - going to pretty countryside pubs, getting absolutely shatfaced, and getting home nice and safely afterwards. None of that crap city centre pub 'fun' on a Friday night followed by public transport 'fun' or wallet emptying taxi 'fun'.

      Could do wonders for pubs that are a bit out of the way of the main routes.

    4. macjules Silver badge

      "Wake me up when I can drive a car to the pub and legally have it run me home"

      Nuts to that.

      I want a car where I can say "Go thee hence and do not return until I can see that you have driven over Hammond (the politician, not the Top Gear chap). Make sure you reverse over him several times."

      Wasn't me officer, It was the car wot dunnit..

    5. cookieMonster

      what type of

      Prick would down vote that !!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: what type of

        The Russians.

    6. Scoular

      Wake me up when someone tells us what these are going to cost and if there is any real reason to believe that enough people want one.

      You can sell some of anything and there is a ready supply of suckers but this might need suckers with money and for the trendy ones it may lack appeal. Even footballers prefer to crash their own cars.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Driverless cars before driverless trains?

    Am I the only one thinking that's the wrong way round? If you can do trains which are on tracks then some of what you learn from that can be transferred to cars. (think redundancy controls etc..)

    In my mind the only way you are going to initially get self driving cars is on specified routes with sensors in the road and no meat sack drivers or laws that the meat sack is always in the wrong. (not good)

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      We have driverless trains on some routes

    2. 0laf Silver badge

      That's way I was thinking motorways and trucks.

      They're much simpler roads than inner city or small town traffic.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "They're much simpler roads than inner city or small town traffic."

        Or rural routes.

        Another aspect of rural routes is navigation. It's bad enough already with drivers following satnavs. At least the driver can (eventually) form an understanding that he's gone wrong and decide to call for the local HGV rescue to haul him out. I wonder how far an autonomous vehicle would carry on.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "At least the driver can (eventually) form an understanding that he's gone wrong and decide to call for the local HGV rescue to haul him out."

          There are actually special satnavs for trucks that know all about restrictions. The problem is cheapskate operators and foreign truck drivers that won't pay for them.

          Making it illegal to use a car satnav on a truck and checking them as part of our post-Brexit Customs fustercluck could go a long way to solving the issue.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "There are actually special satnavs for trucks that know all about restrictions."

            I'm not sure how effective they are.

            Most if not all the routing websites seem to know that the junction at the bottom of my road is too sharp a right turn for an HVG so will advise me to turn left and then turn back to avoid that. Because they don't ask what sort of vehicle I'm in I assume that they're taking restrictions into account when they know about the,

            But the same websites have traffic cross over the route I'd normally drive out to to pick up the motorway and direct them down a twisty set of lanes from which the larger vehicles have had to be rescued. So I'd guess in that case that the navigational databases are sharing data which doesn't mark this as a bad route for HGVs.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "At least the driver can (eventually) form an understanding that he's gone wrong and decide to call for the local HGV rescue to haul him out. I wonder how far an autonomous vehicle would carry on."

          If the stuck HGV driver had not cheaped out on a consumer grade SatNav aimed at car drivers, s/he'd probably not be there in the first place. Proper HGV oriented SatNavs take narrow lanes and low bridges into account (although not perfectly AFAIK)

    3. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      The DLR is a thing.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Cars don't have Unions getting in the way.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        "Cars don't have Unions getting in the way."

        Autonomous cars will have owner/operators that will offer them "as a service" and make us pay through the nose for riding them.

    5. Def Silver badge

      If you can do trains which are on tracks then some of what you learn from that can be transferred to cars.

      We can.

      The Bay Area Rapid Transit system has had fully automated trains since day one (first passengers were carried in 1972). Each train does still have an operator on board whose job is to control the doors and keep an eye out for obstructions on the track. Everything else is completely automated, and let's be honest, auto-closing doors aren't exactly rocket science either.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Driverless cars before driverless trains?

      Am I the only one thinking that's the wrong way round?"

      Freight trains have far more dangerous loads, and require more specialized care and attendance. The danger posed by a car is limited, and it has more options to respond to problems. A mishap with a train can be triggered by all sorts of problems a car does not encounter, and can kill scores or hundreds of people.

      Driverless subway, yes. Driverless trains - a very bad idea for a long, long time.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still waiting for the promised flying cars

    He's a politician, a leader, they are our greatest thinkers, people we can trust to act in our interests, in the interests of our nations before all others so I am sure we will have driverless cars.

    But some politicians do seem to have a problem with schedules. Still waiting for the massive increase in standard of living promised by globalised open trade, lower taxes, equal carbon taxes/reductions for all countries, and of course flying cars.

    I'm sure we will get flying something, after all they wouldn't lie to us.

    1. BoldMan

      Re: Still waiting for the promised flying cars

      "greatest thinkers"?????

      Are you sure of this?

    2. Chemical Bob

      Re: Still waiting for the promised flying cars

      Cars have been flyable for decades - all one needs is adequate velocity and any road imperfection that can function as a ramp. Having learned to drive in a rural area, I did a fair bit of this in my younger days. Landings were a bit harsh, though. Tended to ding up the undercarriage a bit.

  4. Ralph the Wonder Llama
    FAIL

    Hmm...

    ...my inclination is to treat with a great deal of scepticism a statement about driverless cars from the chancellor of a rudderless ship.

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Hmm...

      Indeed so. I note there is no explanation of how to source the enormous amounts of quantonium that will be required to power this fleet of class 5 road automoata.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Meh

    So long as the following criteria are met.

    1. It's not raining.

    2. Roadworks no longer exist

    3. SatNavs are able to tell the difference between a paved road and unpaved road

    4. They are able to navigate single track roads when a vehicle is coming the other way

    5. It can tell the difference between a plastic bag and a real obstacle...

    ....and on and on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So long as the following criteria are met.

      6. Leaves on the road.

      You can't leave that off the list, the arch nemesis of our train networks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So long as the following criteria are met.

        "6. Leaves on the road."

        Any form of snow would probably be the wrong sort.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So long as the following criteria are met.

          Ask the Inuits, they have loads.

          Isiriaktaq is my favourite.

          1. 0laf Silver badge

            Re: So long as the following criteria are met.

            Inuits have 50 words for snow. Us Scots apparently have 400.

            1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

              Re: So long as the following criteria are met.

              400 words for snow, and 650 for rain... :-)

  6. inmypjs Silver badge

    "Level 5 driverless cars by 2021 can be done"

    "in limited geo-fenced areas and on certain roads by 2021"

    Seems to me he is specifically saying it can't be done.

  7. Pete 2

    Determinism

    > concern over speeding up autonomous vehicle testing processes – particularly when it comes to assessing the artificial intelligence aspect of them

    I am not at all convinced that AI should have any place in the control of an autonomous vehicle. The one thing you want from an AV is repeatability. Not just to know that it is following "the rules", but also so that forensic examination of accidents is possible. When a vehicle is autonomous - making decisions for itself, based on what it has "learned" - the concept of liability disappears. You can't blame a driverless car that learned or failed to learn, if it causes an accident.

    And if I was running an insurance company I would not be prepared to cover a vehicle who's behaviour was therefore not predictable. You couldn't perform an actuarial assessment of risk to work out the cost of a policy.

    1. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Determinism

      "I am not at all convinced that AI should have any place in the control of an autonomous vehicle".

      It's unlikely that AI will be used for control. More likely the driving itself is based on a complex set of rules. I suspect that any AI involved has more to do with interpreting sensor data and reconciling different inputs to build a picture of the surroundings. Your concerns arestill valid in this regard of course

    2. Seajay#

      Re: Determinism

      Who are these deterministic human drivers?

      All we need to do is outperform humans by a factor of 10 or so, we don't need provably infallible AI drivers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Determinism

        Personally, I think outperforming humans reliably by a factor of 2 ought to be enough.

        1. Seajay#

          Re: Determinism

          A factor of 2 by definition means half as many accidents if they replace all cars so that's got to be good from a utilitarian point of view. However, there's quite a lot of variation between human drivers so if driverless cars are only twice as good as the average, that means that some people are being put in more danger than they were in before. That's going to be a tough sell.

          As a strange extra statistical wrinkle, consider that middle-aged people are the safest and also the most likely to buy their car brand new, unlike the dangerous teenagers. So it could well be the case that if new driverless cars are twice as safe as average, they could increase accidents when they are first introduced as only people who are three times a safe as average buy them.

  8. Zippy's Sausage Factory

    I've said this before, but...

    I reckon we're a single Fleet Street editor deciding there's papers to be sold before they launch a "BAN THESE KILLER CARS" campaign.

    I mean, how much of the Daily Mail / Express / Telegraph readership are cab drivers/truckers - at least, in the opinion of the editors of the "news" papers anyway?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I've said this before, but...

      Imagine if the cars are brown, they would have a field day.

  9. Triumphantape

    Lease don't buy

    On the off chance this comes true you may be better off leasing a vehicle these days, than buying one outright.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lease don't buy

      Three quarters of new cars in the UK are currently leased rather than purchased outright - I suspect we will see current buyers transition to leasing and current leasers transition to Uber-style hiring (without the driver) in cities large enough to support

      I'm less certain how rural areas will cope if they can't justify the economics of the new transport industry - I'm guessing edge of zone car parks and moving into hire/public transport vehicles.

      As far as congestion goes, all the traffic simulations I have seen suggest reducing accidents (and associated delays) and impatient driving will lead to significantly more capacity on major roads.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lease don't buy

        "Three quarters of new cars in the UK are currently leased"

        Interesting. The latest figures for this side of the Atlantic puts the lease rate around 30%, disproportionately for luxury and corporate vehicles. Tax considerations skew the economics in favour of leasing for business vehicles.

        A lot of people don't want to take the long term financial hit and risks implicit in leasing (particularly 'excess wear and tear' and 'excess mileage' charges).

        Many leases are marginal, at best, in their 'free mileage' allowance, and at the end of the lease you have nothing but possible extra charges, the option to buy the vehicle at a price set by the lessor, and the prospect of buying or leasing another vehicle without a trade-in.

        You might want to lease an EV, on the grounds that the battery may be approaching replacement time by the end of the lease... if you really want to put up with the problems that choice will bring you, in operational limitation, during the lease.

    2. rmason Silver badge

      Re: Lease don't buy

      It's the only way it will work.

      Like with anything vaguely tech related, the early versions will be prohibitively expensive. Cars are already expensive. Early electric vehicles were similarly so, (IIRC the small nissan leaf cost a similar amount of cash to say, a petrol BMW that would be seen as having a superior spec), meaning those who care about such things as status and image were put off.

      there will be a leap again in cost to automated vehicles, when mk1 comes rolling off the production lines they will be out of reach of the majority of buyers from a cost perspective.

      The only way to get anywhere near one is to assume the "book a ride" type model will be the one to follow.

      Obviously will change with time, like with anything as the early cost of R&D is clawed back, and the cost of making all the new things required drops.

      Essentially the only model that will work initially is this sort of leasing or rental arrangement.

      We'll pay £XXX per month to some company or other, in exchange for use of their vehicles when needed.

      I can't see there being AVs priced the same as a small hatchback or average family car when they are launched.

  10. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    "....people have voiced concerns over the thought of Level 5 automation (completely self-driving cars with no human intervention at all) being deployed on Britain’s roads"

    What about:

    "a lot of people have concerns over the thought of a human with limited resistance to distraction, a huge capacity for mistakes, limited intelligence, patience, sobriety, ability etc., and downright stupidity, driving a car on Britain’s roads"

    The sooner we get rid of the knobheads the better.

    1. Chemist

      "The sooner we get rid of the knobheads the better."

      Whilst we can probably agree on that it's clear that with the statistic quoted about 1 fatality in 1e8 miles it's going to take (as mentioned) a lot of testing before a) people, b) insurance companies are persuaded and then people will be put-off by the likely extra cost and (presumably) the maintenance ( sensors/computers etc. will need checking, upgrading and certifying ) regularly.

    2. Commswonk Silver badge

      The sooner we get rid of the knobheads the better.

      Doesn't this rather overlook the simple fact that the software (AI or not) that controls these vehicles will be written by "knobheads"?

      Rather like every bit of software that has been written to date, complete with its flaws and vulnerabilities.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "complete with its flaws and vulnerabilities."

        With the added characteristic of being repeatable.

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          "With the added characteristic of being repeatable."

          Have you ever tried to debug multi-threaded software with some sort of hardware/real-time dependency?

          It may be repeatable in the strictest sense*, but probably chaotic in the sensitivity to the timing of data and small variations in it (e.g. the recent 'single pixel' change in AI's interpretation of a road-sign).

          [*] not including single event upsets / DRAM errors in hardware, or common programming bugs like using uninitialised memory.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Putting driverless cars on the roads won't magically remove bad drivers from the road. Unless you're planning to ban everyone from driving, which is a plan that would do wonders for any aspiring politician's career (in a "15 minutes of fame" sense, rather than "long and distinguished").

      People are used to the idea of other humans controlling cars, as they've had decades of experience (centuries, if you count horse-drawn transport) to prove that it mostly works just fine. AVs are still an unknown.

  11. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Happy

    driverless/carless

    1) Summon driverless car

    2) Destination: a shipping container on a dark industrial estate

    2a) Load shipping container onto driverless truck, Destination: Automated port facility

    3) Ship it to $remote_country

    4) Profit!

  12. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    "so what is being proposed is at-scale deployment "

    And thus does roger Zelanzy's vision become reality.

    Also: "Oxbotica". Worst name for a company ever.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      "Also: "Oxbotica". Worst name for a company ever."

      Clearly you have never been to the website http://www.ladrape.com/ where La Drape sell you bedspreads.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Bah!

        Pen Island.

        Guess what their web address was.

  13. boothamshaw

    Post-pub car downside

    Okay. It's 7.00am, and my driverless car arrives from the depot to drive me to work. Due to an oversight, cleaning did not happen and the part digested kebab helpfully left there by a 3am clubber is still on the seat. And the floor, and the door. Oh, and a used condom... Meatware will always be a factor.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Post-pub car downside

      If you're going to have unsupervised hoi polloi using shared vehicles the cleaning cycles will have to be autonomous too, which probably means plastic bench seats with no absorbent surfaces so the interior of the vehicle can just be hosed out. So like a taxi, only much, much rougher.

      I'll stick with a car that's used by myself and my family only, thanks.

    2. Smooth Newt
      Coat

      Re: Post-pub car downside

      Okay. It's 7.00am, and my driverless car arrives from the depot to drive me to work. Due to an oversight, cleaning did not happen and the part digested kebab helpfully left there by a 3am clubber is still on the seat. And the floor, and the door. Oh, and a used condom... Meatware will always be a factor.

      That's why it is called a Johnny Cab.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Post-pub car downside

      "Okay. It's 7.00am, and my driverless car arrives from the depot to drive me to work. Due to an oversight, cleaning did not happen and the part digested kebab helpfully left there by a 3am clubber is still on the seat. And the floor, and the door. Oh, and a used condom... Meatware will always be a factor."

      Yet another good reason for owning your own level 4 or 5 vehicle... which seems to be the optimal solution for a number of us.

      1. rmason Silver badge

        Re: Post-pub car downside

        Owning an AV would be wonderful.

        I suspect we are quite a few years away from them being affordable to the average punter though.

        First we have to make them work properly, then we get to see how much they will initially cost. I suspect the answer will be "a lot".

        By the time they can be affordable to someone on an average salary, the model of not owning a car will be "normal" to more people than not.

        Rather than them paying 100-300 quid a month in payments on a car they "own", those payments will go to whichever entity is producing the AV or whichever company purchases it from them to rent out, Like a mobile phone contract, apart from you don't get to keep the phone while it's idle/not in use.

  14. Rebel Science

    Lab rats, the lot of you

    Your government is using you as lab rats. They want to find out how many fatal traffic accidents by autonomous cars you are willing to tolerate. Good luck with that.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Lab rats, the lot of you

      "Your government is using you as lab rats. They want to find out how many fatal traffic accidents by autonomous cars you are willing to tolerate."

      Either that or the AV industry is using the government as lab rats to find out how many fatal traffic accidents bring down a government.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Lab rats, the lot of you

        Can we get the King Rats Ministers of Her Majesty's Government into these autonomous vehicles as a matter of priority. If the Chancellor is keen to shovel money to the AV industry, he should also be the first to experience and reap the benefits.

        After the ministers, get a fleet of them for the MPs - they don't get chauffeur driven limousines at the moment, so, a "free" autonomous vehicle will be accepted with open arms. An AV trial size of 650.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lab rats, the lot of you

      That's like Windows 10, every time someone I know installs it a little piece of me dies.

    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Lab rats, the lot of you

      Well, a smaller polulation would be much easier to handle, I guess.

    4. batfink Bronze badge

      Re: Lab rats, the lot of you

      How many fatal traffic accidents by humans are you willing to tolerate?

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    WTF?

    "At-scale deployment to provide the evidence that AVs are safe for at-scale deployment"

    When he puts it like that it does seem kind of dumb, does it not?

    If you're going to spend > £q/2 Bn on UK roads perhaps rolling out more of the electric car charging infrastructure you're so keen on would be a better use?

    My instinct is this will start with HGV delivery vehicles running well defined, mostly main roads between ports and distribution warehouses. The use case is fairly well defined, the sites are not worst case traffic and there is a significant financial incentive to do so. So I'd expect Amazon to be in the forefront of this.

    BTW would an HGV driver not driving but sitting at the wheel counts as part of their "hours worked"? If not they can work longer hours, potentially eliminating one or two of them per environment.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: "At-scale deployment to provide the evidence that AVs are safe for at-scale deployment"

      BTW would an HGV driver not driving but sitting at the wheel counts as part of their "hours worked"? If not they can work longer hours, potentially eliminating one or two of them per environment.

      If they read your suggestion I expect thousands of HGV drivers will queue up waiting in turn to kiss your feet at your kind suggestion that they should / could work longer hours.

      NOT

      How would you react if someone who probably knows little or nothing about your job decided on a new way of working that might keep you away from your home even longer than it does now?

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: "At-scale deployment to provide the evidence that AVs are safe for at-scale deployment"

        @commswonk;I took JS19's comment to apply to the current rules about drivers of some types of heavy vehicles having to stop for a certain length of time after a certain length of driving (one hour after every four?). Thus, if the answer to his question is "no", then drivers would be able to knock one hour off a journey time for every five on duty, making the length of time away from home shorter.

  16. DougS Silver badge

    The recent crash in Vegas shows the folly of this

    The news reported this, and mentioned that the autonomous car was hit by another vehicle, leading autonomous vehicle proponents to try to use it as an example of why they are needed.

    What really happened however is more complex. The autonomous car was behind a truck that needed to back up. The car stopped too close, leaving the truck without sufficient room so the driver ended up accidentally clipping the car.

    Several lessons to be learned from this. One, autonomous cars need to be able to recognize situations where the vehicle ahead may need to back up / back into a space - trucks do this a lot, and frequent drivers in an area know where trucks are likely to do this and give them a wide berth (or avoid that spot entirely if possible) Two, autonomous cars need to leave sufficient room and be able to back up themselves if they are in danger of being hit. Three, autonomous cars need to learn to use their horn - sometimes a vehicle backing up doesn't see well behind them so if you see a vehicle backing into yours you'll lean on the horn a bit to alert them.

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Kinetic
    Mushroom

    Positive thinking overload.... what about the flipside

    We seem to have heard quite enough from the optimists about just how marvellous it will be to fall out of the pub at 2am and get the car home just like the good-ol-days, but what might go wrong with this cunning plan?

    There's many minor glitches. These include getting people to trust that an old £100 Fiat automated banger in 20 years time. Trust that it will still function correctly and not kill everyone inside it, the first time it has a memory error. However, the big BIG BIG problem, is inadvertently creating a new weapon of mass destruction.

    Yes, yes, down-vote at the ready, but think about it first. If this automated revolution is successful, and god knows there's enough people cheering it on, the streets will be full with millions of fully automated vehicles. These machines are capable of being reprogrammed, and because the optimists are in charge, it will doubtless be over-the-air updates at that. What you have here is a massive mobile botnet in waiting.

    Now I can see you reaching towards your keyboard muttering about secure protocols and testing etc, but frankly that just isn't good enough. It's not even close. This is a massively distributed killing machine. It's the perfect weapon of mass destruction. It comes with pre-loaded hostages in case you were thinking about stopping parts of it. It has software carefully engineered to identify humans, which could be trivially re-purposed to target humans. It can navigate to target's kill them and automatically recharge and redeploy indefinitely. Best of all, it's already deployed all around it's targets. Basically you can hold the whole world to ransom. The best bit is you can do this indefinitely. Issue your demands, then allow things to continue as normal, as long as 10,000 people in each country remain as hostages in their cars. They won't be permitted to exit the vehicle until another enters a vehicle elsewhere. If there's an attempt to break the botnet, then (n) people will be killed a minute until the attempt stops. You can basically rule the world this way.

    So back to my point about security. All security is breakable. All you are doing by adding more cryptography and checks is raising the effort level to a point where it isn't worth it for the attacker. Here the security would have to be perfect, as the payoff is basically infinite. Nobody must be able to compromise the system, not nation states, not the companies who make the vehicles, not the developers of the software. You would have to treat this system are more dangerous and secure than any nuclear weapons system.

    This is not going to happen.

    What if we go back to why we are creating this massive potential disaster. This is a solved problem, it's called a Taxi and it works very well. Yes, you have to pay someone each time you use the vehicle, but Uber seems to have made that pretty painless. I imagine someone has already taken the next step and created "season passes" that allow you to travel as much as you want within a geographic area. So what's the problem? Smelly humans driving the vehicles? Okay, legislation on hygiene and qualifications to be a cab driver. Bad vehicles used as taxis - stricter rules for Taxi vehicles. Worried about personal safety in a taxi, fit them with CCTV and 24/7 tracking. Bad driving? Then crack down on dangerous driving, not just speeding. What is the actual problem we are solving here?

    Is it because we saw it in a Sci-fi film and it looked cool......... probably.

    So no, I don't think it's a great idea. Would I love to be able to press a button on my phone and have my car come find me? Sure, that would be awesome! It's just that things are never quite that simple.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Positive thinking overload.... what about the flipside

      Yeah but I want to go for a drink in a country pub and be brought home and I REALLY REALLY hate my commute. I can live with an evil genius taking over the world so long as he doesn't ruin Surrey property prices.

      I'm sort of joking but you know that this attitude will be the one that wins.

  19. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Driver versus Driverless

    The Driverless car is always going to have to take avoiding action when face with a car being driven by an angry pissed off driver or simply someone who hates driverless cars ... can you imagine Alex, having given up clockwork oranges, driving around the countyside? It's going to be so funny forcing those driverless cars into the hedgerows...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Driver versus Driverless

      "The Driverless car is always going to have to take avoiding action when face with a car being driven by an angry pissed off driver or simply someone who hates driverless cars ... can you imagine Alex, having given up clockwork oranges, driving around the countyside? It's going to be so funny forcing those driverless cars into the hedgerows..."

      This is almost another version of the 'paying the kidnapper' dilemma. While it might work in the short run, it's a really bad policy in the long run.

      Autonomous strategy: "Evaluate right of way. Sound horn, flash lights. If aggressive vehicle veers off, go to secondary strategy. If not, evade accident without hitting something else or going off the road if possible. If not, accept the accident. In any case take pictures of the approaching car and driver, forward pictures to police. Mitigate the accident so persons in the AV are not seriously hurt."

  20. HoggertyHog
    Terminator

    Driving at nght in the rain on commuter-choked, cratered, diesel slicked roads, the only hope I have sometimes is that the meat sack passing my car within 2 ft and a relative speed of 120mph is that we both know we do not want to die (this is is the assumption at least). I could not make that assumption with an AV. How do we build trust in these things?

  21. GoldCoaster

    I'm amazed by the number of Luddites on a technology website.

    2021 sounds about right for Full Self Driving - Level 5 cars, its mostly a software problem and strides are being made right now.

  22. rsole

    Thanks for the Reminder

    I need to watch The Terminator again.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This:

    “Up until now, AV testing has been about development: trying out algorithms in practice to see what happens, in controlled conditions with a trained safety driver to watch the system like a hawk and take over when it goes wrong,”

    So, much like the extinction of the human race, not IF, but WHEN!

  24. Andyf

    Insurance and liability

    So, assuming that Hammond's fantasy becomes reality and we have level 5 automated cars on the roads in 2020ish.......

    L5 car driving solo gets involved in an RTC, either causes one, subject to, what ever, with a human controlled vehicle (car, bike, cycle, pedestrian). Who do you swap details with? Do you just get the reg number and report it? I can imagine an insurer receiving a claim, checking the car's data (assuming that the owner hasn't altered it to show that the car couldn't possibly be at fault) and deciding not to pay out because of some tiny detail on the data.

    Give a whole new meaning to 'computer says no'

  25. GettinSadda

    > "We fully anticipate that Level 5 vehicles will start to see operations in limited geo-fenced areas and on certain roads by 2021.” – Graeme Smith, chief executive, Oxbotica

    Um... "Waymo has been testing the automated Chrysler Pacifica minivans without a human backup since 19 October in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, Arizona"

    From: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/nov/07/google-waymo-announces-fully-autonomous-ride-hailing-service-uber-alphabet

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    doubt it

    just thinking of my commute, I have to.

    Negotiate out of my very tight and awkward drive.

    Drive out through the village (A Cornish village) so the road is just about big enough for one car and if you meet someone else you have to decide who’s going to reverse to the nearest passing spot, dodging all the emmets (holiday makers) walking behind you when you’re trying to reverse!

    Drive along country lanes for 20 miles, looking out for, deer, foxes, badgers, tractors, slow Emmets, slow HGV’s, twats driving too fast along very twisty roads, fallen trees, mud on the roads from tractors, etc

    Negotiate getting on and off Torpoint (google it) ferry obeying the hand signals of the loaders telling you where to go on the ferry, or negotiate the Tamar bridge with its mental toll plaza.

    Then finally drive the 2 miles through city traffic in Plymouth to my work and negotiate the security barrier and park.

    A VERY tall order for 4 years time!

    So I say Bolloxs

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