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A driver-less car? Not for me, ta very much

By Hamish Champ
Posted 26 November 2012

Like one of my literary heroes – Kurt Wallander – I relish to prospect of driving long distances in a car on my own.

Plant me behind the wheel of a decent motor, give me the opportunity for some solitude, to listen to my favourite music or to a play on the radio, and I’m there in a flash.

So why anyone would want to create the driverless car is beyond me. But this is exactly what was being proposed – nay forecast – by a bunch of UK-based white-coated boffins at the weekend.

Driving would be safer without the human element, transport scientists told BBC Radio 4’s ‘Broadcasting House’ programme on Sunday, because cars would have technology built into them to avoid coming into contact with other vehicles.

And since such cars – and presumably other vehicles such as lorries and taxis and white vans and milk floats – wouldn’t bump or crash into each other there would be no need for traffic lights, thereby speeding up traffic flows. Good for the economy, it was suggested.

Driver-less cars would also mean fundamental changes to a car’s interior, it was posited. With no need for a steering wheel or dashboard fascia vehicle passengers could sit facing each other, with those in the front now facing backwards.

With no driving duties to perform passengers can get stuck into some work, or watch a film on their tablets or simply stare out of the window, added the driverless car expert, enthusiastically.

What a terrible prospect.

Then there is the impact this would have on those plastics companies which supply into the automotive sector. Just think of a car sans steering wheel, dashboard, controls and whatnot. Bizarre.

I am aware that I might sound like the person who said the steam-driven locomotive had no future or the guy who passed on The Bealtes saying no-one wanted to listen to guitar groups anymore.

Progress is inevitable and in most cases quite a good thing.

But if I’m still alive when the driver-less car comes into being I think I’ll pass, thanks very much.

Comments:

The writer of the article gave no real reasons at all for opposing driver-less cars. You can still find solitude, play music, listen to the radio in a driverless vehicle. Plastics companies are adaptable enough and would find plenty more electronic parts to supply, leaving aside the possibility that cars will contain televisions. There would also be more cars in use by very elderly people, who no longer have driving licences.I imagine the UK will not be the first country to adopt this new technology, because our congestion is very severe and our road system more complicated than that of North America. But by the time we do adopt it, after I'm dead, we can learn from everyone else's mistakes.

- 28 November 2012 - Geoff Pritchard

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