Could our future be driverless?

THERE is no doubt there will be more cars on our roads in the decades to come but if vehicle technology continues to evolve at the rate it is then those cars might actually be driverless!

The issue for road users is that the technology, which allows the car to take over partial control of steering and braking, is racing ahead of laws and legislation.

The introduction of intelligent, robot-powered automobiles brings with it a number of complicated questions, like who is responsible when the car makes a mistake? And our lawmakers and court system are still grappling with the answers.

There has been one death reported in America where the car, running on autopilot, failed to identify a white trailer on a very sunny day. The car didn't apply the brakes in time and the crash killed the man who was "driving".

Taking the human element out of the driving experience raises some thought-provoking questions aside from basic safety issues. For instance, if a car is driverless, does this mean you can drink and drive?

What about taking a nap behind the wheel if you get tired? And what about the differences in road rules between Australia's states and territories?

Have the driverless cars been programmed to identify the different rules that exist when travelling from state to state? At this stage, we just don't know the answers.

While driverless technology is only at the trial stage in Australia, it is thought it could be commercially available in as little as five years.


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