Hands-Free Driving Could Be Made Legal on UK Roads by Spring
Are you tired of driving? Then watch a movie and let the autopilot do the work!
It may sound crazy, but you better get used to the idea. Hands-free driving is here to stay.
The UK is on the cusp of a transport revolution, as the country plans to make hands-free driving legal during the spring of 2021. This represents a new era of transportation and will change the way we view cars, traffic, and travel entirely.
Table of Contents
- What is Hands-Free Driving?
- Improved Traffic Safety With Cars on Autopilot
- Accidents In Relation to Hands-Free Driving
- Oxford the First City to Test Self-Driving Cars
- A Transport Revolution With Massive Financial Impact
1. What Is Hands-Free Driving?
Before we dive deeper into the United Kingdom’s plans, let’s define what hands-free driving means. It’s a technology that enables the car to steer itself, staying in its lane even around curves. It’s already a part of several modern car models, but the law still requires that the person driving remains alert, focused, and always ready to act instantly.
Tesla has a feature called “Autopilot,” which is an example of hands-free technology. There are five different levels of self-driving cars and Tesla’s “autopilot” is considered a “level two.” The next level would not require the driver’s constant attention, which could – at least in theory – mean that the driver can do other things like reading email, sending texts, or even watching a movie.
2. Improved Traffic Safety With Cars on Autopilot
Watching a movie while your car is driving for you may sound like science fiction. However, in the UK, this will most likely become a reality in the very near future. Hands-free driving is planned to become legal during the spring of 2021.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has issued a call for evidence into the concept of automated lane-keeping systems (ALKS), and one of the factors spurring all of this on is traffic safety.
According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, self-driving cars could significantly reduce traffic accidents.
“Automated technology could make driving safer, smoother, and easier for motorists, and the UK should be the first country to see these benefits, attracting manufacturers to develop and test new technologies,” says Transport Minister Rachel Maclean.
Mike Hawes, leading the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders, agreed and said that automated technologies would be “life-changing” and may prevent as many as 47,000 serious car accidents during the ten years to come.
3. Accidents In Relation to Hands-Free Driving
However, although a desire for increased safety progresses, there have been several accidents involving cars on autopilot. A Nottingham driver was banned from driving in 2018 after sitting in the passenger seat of his Tesla while letting the vehicle drive on its own on the highway. In the US, a deadly crash occurred when the driver was playing video games, allowing the car to drive in “Autopilot” mode, which ended with the car driving into a concrete wall. Examples like these have caused many to question the safety of this technology.
4. Oxford the First City to Test Self-Driving Cars
In the UK, the first city to try out the concept of self-driving was Oxford. Here, the hands-free cars have been tested, as six autonomous vehicles have been used as part of a state-funded research project called “Project Endeavour.” The trials were managed by Oxbotica, a company at the forefront of autopilot car technology in the UK. Oxbotica called the test in Oxford an essential milestone on the journey towards more automated and safer vehicles.
5. A Transport Revolution with Massive Financial Impact
The introduction of automated vehicles does not only represent a new paradigm in traffic and transport. It is also the foundation for a new and thriving industry holding massive financial potential. The full economic value of autopilot cars in the UK was revealed, as Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said that the CAV market (connected and autonomous vehicle market) could be worth a staggering £41.7 billion by the year 2035.
A research report created by scientists at the Connected Places Catapult, Element Energy, and Cambridge Econometrics predicts that 40% of new UK car sales will have self-driving capabilities by the year 2035. This would mean a total market value of £41.7 billion for self-driving vehicles. For a UK struggling with the COVID 19 pandemic’s repercussions, this is a welcome prophecy indeed.
If these predictions are correct, the progress would mean around 40,000 knowledge jobs in the CAV tech sector, which could strengthen the economy and reinforce the commitment to a green way of rebuilding things after COVID-19.
“The investment in and development of CAVs could truly transform the way people and goods are transported, with innovation like this at the heart of our ambition to build back better. We’re on the cusp of a driving revolution. Not only could this tech unlock vast opportunities for the UK economy and jobs market, but it could also significantly improve the safety and efficiency of how we travel over the coming decades,” says Transport Minister Rachel Maclean.
Watching a movie or playing a video game while driving may sound surreal, but as we’ve seen in this article, this will probably become part of our reality within the near future. Hands-free driving is planned to become a reality on UK roads during the spring of 2021.
The most important argument for automated vehicles is the potential for improved traffic safety, and a significant reduction in car accidents. Still, a lot of work remains to be done for this safety to be certain; both in terms of legislation and technological progress.
The heavy investments in connected and automated vehicles may generate as many as 40,000 skilled jobs in the UK. This would not only help cement UK as the world leader withing CAV technology, but it could also become a strong positive force as the country aims to rebuild its economy in a greener and more sustainable way.
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