The future of cars

It may be something of a cliché to refer to the technological revolutions of the age in which we seem to live – but in some areas it is simply impossible to deny that revolution is the only word to use.

One of those areas may be the future of the motor car. Already – and in a relatively short period of time – we have progressed from the “horseless-carriage” that required a man with a red flag to proceed it to the very real prospect of self-driving cars. In less than a generation, the humble motor car may go through the kind of revolution that marked that first appearance of the horseless carriage.

Google cars

At the forefront of the drive – excuse the pun – to self-driving cars is the internet giant Google. According to a story by the BBC, the company has actually started making its own driverless cars, rather than adapting production-line models from other manufacturers.

The Google car has an almost cartoon-like face, behind which the passenger has a button to go and to stop, but brake, accelerator or clutch pedal and no steering wheel.

A further report by the Independent newspaper attributed to a spokesman for Google the fact that its driverless cars have already driven more than 700,000 miles, recognising pedestrians and other hazards just as easily as the human eye.

The shape of the future

If vehicles with drivers become a thing of the past, there are some things that remain unlikely to change. However clever, well tried and tested the technology, for example, there is unlikely to be a free for all, but the continued regulation of what makes a motor vehicle and the conditions under which a driverless vehicle may operate.

The same Independent newspaper story, for example, reported that the State of California has already formulated the rules and regulations for the operation of what might be called “autonomous” vehicles.

By the same token, as your motor insurance broker in Southend, we at Alan Blunden Insurance are already gearing up to greet the appearance of the first driverless carriages on British roads, to meet the inevitable legal requirements for appropriate insurance.

Passengers or goods?

There remains some debate about the precise nature of the traffic likely to be generated through the technological break-through of driverless vehicles.

Given our long love affair with the motor car, first thoughts are likely to go towards the initially nervous passengers sat in a self-steering, self-driving vehicle. In fact, however, many pundits foresee a future in which these self-driving devices are primarily used for making door to door deliveries of those goods which many of us already buy online.