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Fleets take a dim view of autonomous vehicle introduction

Three quarters of commercial vehicle businesses would not incorporate self-driving vehicles into their fleet, according to a recent survey by Fleet News.

You may have seen in our recent posts the news that driverless cars are imminent on UK roads. With Google throwing their weight behind the new technology, self-driving cars have come on at pace and could be with us in as little as 6 months.

And it seems that the debate continues to rage over whether this will be a help or hindrance to the millions of road users in Britain.

If a recent Fleet News poll is to be believed, it appears that nearly 75% of fleets do not want to see driverless cars on the roads. Indeed, a reported 72% suggested that driverless cars would play no part in their fleets.

It is not surprising that taxi firms and other commercial fleets who deliver manned transport solutions do not want to see autonomous vehicles take away their livelihood. And the government’s eagerness to introduce driverless vehicles does seem at odds with the claims that the move could lead to mass unemployment if fleets were to be disenfranchised and forced to lay off a significant proportion of their staff.

In June, Vince Cable – the government’s business secretary – announced a £10 million trial for self-driving vehicles to go ahead in three cities around the UK. This move to fast-track research into autonomous vehicles could see driver-free cars on our roads as early as January 2015.

The vehicles will feature on-board technology including radar, laser sensors, cameras and advanced satellite navigation systems.

Managing Director of Smart Witness, Simon Marsh, has said that the move has perhaps come too soon, according to a study carried out by his company:

“Two thirds of motorists said that the Government was premature in allowing driverless cars on UK roads and that more tests were needed to ensure the safety of the new technology.”

Marsh also suggested that one of the hottest topics surrounding self-driving cars will be around accountability in the event of a road traffic accident:

“There were concerns raised about liability and whether these vehicles could be insured because computer error could easily be called into question on any accident involving a driverless car.”

The Smart Witness survey claimed that 90% of those questioned believed that self-driving vehicles should be fitted with forward facing incident cameras to help determine responsibility for road accidents.

“There will be serious issues surrounding the insurance of driverless cars unless they use incident cameras that provide court admissible data,” he claimed.

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