Are we really ready for driverless cars?

The 87th Geneva Motor Show is drawing to a close and as expected, the world biggest catwalk for cars has generated a lot of news. Unsurprisingly, alongside the unveiling of the usual supercar stars such as the gorgeous McLaren 720S and the impressive Aston Martin-Red Bull collaborative, the Valkyrie, there was a lot of talk of autonomy, connectivity and a driverless future.

Volkswagen unveiled their vision for the future of driving in the form of a toaster shaped pod named Sedric – a combination of the words self-driving-car. Described as a ‘trailblazer’ for autonomous driving, the car has no wheels, steering wheel, pedals or cockpit and can be summoned with the push of a button – it could even be programmed to go down the shop to collect your shopping for you.

Sedric of course is a concept car that is unlikely to ever be seen on the roads, but it’s a sure sign that the competition between automakers to offer the first self-driving car is hotting up.

The likes of Ford, BMW and Uber have their sights set on mass producing fully autonomous cars within the next four years and the UK Government has announced a multi-million-pound investment in the development of self-driving cars and AI in its recent budget statement.

The technology, skills and investment is certainly in place to make autonomous vehicles a reality within a matter of years, but are we really ready for a driverless future?

After all, the same week that Sedric made its debut and the UK Government committed millions to keeping the UK at the forefront of driverless technology, Jaguar Land Rover had an ad for hands-free mobile technology banned for encouraging unsafe driving.

The advertorial which described the Jaguar XE’s new in-car features such as wi-fi connectivity and smart-phone integrated apps was ruled as ‘irresponsible’ by the Advertising Standards Agency, noting that the Highway Code states using hands-free equipment was likely to distract drivers and advised stopping to make or take calls. I wonder what the Highway Code says about staying at home while your car goes to pick up your shopping?

If a car manufacturer is banned from advertising hands-free technology capabilities, is it really feasible that in just four years, we’ll be able to take a nap while our car shuttles us to our destination?

The truth is, vehicle development is way ahead of public policy, and despite how exciting and visionary the concept is, a cultural shift will have to take place before driverless cars are accepted and adopted.

The challenge for the likes of Ford and Volkswagen is not just to develop technology that works, but to change the way we think about cars.


Related News Stories

PRmoment award logo
Red Marlin in the running for PR industry award
Does your business need an automotive PR MoT?
Five top tips to improve readability