In the 1970s or early 1980s car stickers started to appear on the rear of vehicles, with the wording:
Designed by computer
Built by robotDriven by an idiot
It was a parody of a successful advertising campaign for a car manufacturer whose model I cannot remember, but no doubt somebody might.
This mantra proved prescient and has stuck with me over the years, never more so, as the digital age has taken over our lives and seeing robots on an assembly line is regarded as the norm, and for the third line ‘Driven by an idiot’ could as easily be applied to many motorists driving in London today.
If you could take humans out of the equation, so the theory goes, the roads would be a safer place, and the subsequent reduction in overheads (the drivers) would be of huge interest to the likes of Uber.
That ambition of driverless cars has now become a reality thanks to the work, over many years, conducted at Warwick University. As soon as next year Jaguar is predicting their ‘Robocar’, a rectangular electric vehicle not dissimilar to the familiar electric cab could hit London’s streets.
With a top speed of 75mph and a range of 190 miles between charges, it can transport up to six people anywhere in London, and beyond.
The recent storms proved that this technology can save lives when two Tesler cars independently braked to avoid falling trees in the recent storm, thus saving the passengers from injury or death. These life-saving events help the argument that autonomous and computerised cars are far safer than human-driven vehicles as robots don’t drink drive, fall asleep, watch the passing landscape, or use their phone or i-pad whilst negotiating London’s complex streets.
Not until artificial intelligence has the ability, will these vehicles be likely to confront other artificial intelligence-led vehicles with road rage.
In the race to become a world-leader in autonomous technology, already the Department of Transport has been tasked with drawing up a digital Highway Code thus enabling self-driving cars on to the Capital’s roads by next year.
As the adage goes: ‘The most dangerous part of any car is the nut behind the wheel.’