Driverless cars are coming to the UK – should we be worried? Trials of these in the USA have actually resulted in hundreds of crashes, some of them fatal. During a four month period in 2022 eleven people were killed. Passengers and pedestrians are dying as a direct result of driverless technology.
There are a number of vehicle manufacturers seeking to use of this technology, with Tesla out in the lead. However, it’s the Ford motor company who are unleashing these machines on the British public with the Mustang Mach-E set to hit the roads.
There are limitations as to what these cars can do, and as a result they can currently only be used on motorways. But will everyone who owns one obey that rule?
When the system is in operation, the driver can take their hands and feet from the controls; effectively putting the vehicle into cruise mode. They must not, however, take their eyes from the road. Cameras constantly monitor the driver’s eyes and where they are looking. Become distracted by the scenery for more than a few seconds and an alarm will sound. This alarm will become more insistent the longer their eyes remain unfocussed on the job. Then after around 15 seconds the system will start to apply the brakes in order to jolt the driver back to awareness should they have fallen asleep. I only hope that there’s nothing close behind if this were to happen as braking erratically on a motorway is hardly what I would call a safe driving technique.
So, there you are cruising along in the left-hand lane steadily gaining on the Stobart lorry ahead. What happens when you get there? The system will slow you down and ensure that you keep a safe distance. What? You want to change lanes and overtake? Then you need to disable the auto-pilot and take over because the technology isn’t that reliable and advanced yet.
Now therein lies another problem. In order to avoid being inconvenienced by lorries, how many users of this system will just decide to avoid the left-hand lane altogether?
You will also need to purchase a monthly subscription to use the ‘BlueCruise’ system. Seeing as the Mustang costs between £50,000 to £75,000 I don’t suppose those who can afford this kind of toy need worry about a few extra pounds. But personally, it seems to me to be an awful lot of money to pay for something that just amounts to basic cruise control.