Is Britain ready for driverless cars? Earlier this month it was reported that autonomous vehicles will be trialled on UK roads for the first time, with tests planned to take place in Bristol, Coventry, Milton Keynes and the London borough of Greenwich.
Car manufacturers and high-tech firms – including Google and, perhaps, Apple – are developing technologies that could one day lead to self-driving cars becoming a common sight on the roads.
But their success will depend not only on how well the cars themselves operate, but on the standard of the infrastructure – and of course public acceptance of the technology.
Elizabeth Box, head of research at the RAC Foundation, recently told New Civil Engineer magazine that ensuring the roads meet certain standards would be critical to making automated transport work.
She said: Some of the technology in driverless vehicles relies on white lines, so road maintenance will be important.
There are also questions about segregating pedestrians and vehicles – the way the infrastructure is developed depends on how the cars are ultimately used.
Public opinion on driverless cars is still divided, with a survey by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) showing that only a quarter of men and just 16% of women would consider using one.
While driverless vehicles have huge potential to transform the UK’s transport network there is clearly a lot to do before people are won over, commented Hugh Boyes from the IET.
In a survey carried out by YouGov, on behalf of Osborne Clarke, the results found that almost half of UK adults (46 per cent) would be willing to take a ride, while 39 per cent have yet to be convinced. Read more about the survey here.