24 June 2019

Over the last decade, fleet managers and their teams have seen automotive technology evolve at an astounding rate. From electric vehicles that outperform their traditionally-fuelled counterparts to in-car virtual assistants, there’s plenty to get excited about.

As it stands, autonomous (self-driving) vehicles seem to be the next big shift. With multiple manufacturers already testing their models on roads across the world, it should come as no surprise that this technology may be ready to go over the next few years.

However, there is still much that needs to be considered, and we would like to explore this in the rest of this article.

Self-driving cars could revolutionise people’s lives. By the end of the next decade, they could radically transform public spaces and reduce the risk that drivers face when they take to the roads.

This is because robot drivers would have been programmed in such a way that they do not risk their passengers.

For example, they won’t break the speed limit, go through amber lights, or park where they shouldn’t. They won’t get distracted by business phone calls, and they won’t lose concentration during a longer journey.

Large technology companies are already running autonomous vehicle services, specifically Google. According to a BBC article, for the last six months, they have been offering a robo-taxi service called Waymo One in and around the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, USA.

In the article, the passenger of an autonomous taxi and explained that the vehicle, which was out with a battery of sensors and high-definition cameras, performed very impressively, handling slightly tricky left turns, spotting other road users and slowing down as it passed a school.

While a Google engineer sat behind the wheel, she never intervened and according to the report, the passengers soon relaxed and forgot that they were effectively being driven by a robot. As intriguing as this service is, there is still much to be considered. First of all, there is the safety of others.

Quite rightly, there are still major concerns about the interaction between driverless vehicles and other road users, mainly cyclists and pedestrians.

One of the key questions asked is how the driverless vehicle would react in a situation that would save the passengers, but injure other people.

For example, if a vehicle has to stop in an emergency, it could send out a signal to the vehicles around it, which would, in turn, slow down.

Driverless vehicles further behind may take an alternative route, thus reducing the impact of accidents and the risk of traffic jams.

Further reading

In summary, driverless vehicles could be on the UK roads sooner than we think. However, those developing the technologies need to understand and appreciate the reservations some may have regarding these vehicles being on the road.

It remains to be seen how soon autonomous vehicles will become an integral part of driving in the future, and there is no doubt this is an exciting time for the automotive industry.

To find out more about our fleet management and leasingemployee benefits solutions and driver services, call a member of our team on 0844 854 5100 or email CSalmon@sgfleet.com.