Cars have long been one of the items that science fiction writers have used as an example of the utopian.  By this point in history we were supposed to have amazingly streamlined vehicles, flying cars, and self-driving cars.  We do have a decent number of cars with cool body styles, the flying cars are nowhere to be seen, and the self-driving ones seem to move closer to a reality every day.

Many analysts and car enthusiasts have praised the increasing autonomous features such as auto-braking, lane change warnings, and blind spot detection.  Most point to these improvements and those in the final planning stages, including fully autonomous cars, as making driving far safer. They predict that accident rates and injury and death rates will drop.  Many insurance companies seem to agree with them to the extent that many are predicting a decline in revenue due to the need to make cover less expensive.

However, it might not be time to sell your car yet as one UK organisation has expressed concerns on the growing level of automobile autonomy.

IAM RoadSmart is the UK’s largest independent road safety charity.

IAM RoadSmart has taken that position that increased autonomy has the potential to make drivers over reliant on gadgets and technology and make them lazy drivers.  The group feels that this over-reliance on technology and lessened attention to driving could lessen the potential injury and deaths due to highway accidents that has been attributed to the autonomous features.

The group says that chief among its members concerns are the potential for hacking and the already identified vulnerabilities that already exist with today’s connected automobiles.  Some sceptics dismiss these security and hacking concerns as being overly paranoid. While television dramas have used car hacking criminals as a plot device, the concern is indeed valid and one that should be addressed.

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee recently released a report title “Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: The Future?”  IAM Roadsmart supports the report’s conclusions and recommendations which are designed to derive the maximum safety and economic benefits.

In the report the House of Lords’ committee wrote:  “Autonomous cars could have negative implications for drivers’ competence, making drivers complacent and overly reliant on technology. This is of particular concern in emergency situations, where a driver may react slowly to taking back control of a vehicle. The Government should give priority to commissioning and encouraging research studying behavioural questions and ensure it is an integral part of any trials it funds.”

Driverless cars will happen. Hopefully all involved will work together to achieve the maximum long-term benefits.


Posted in Car

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