6 burning driverless car questions answered

Here are six hypothetical questions that were put to a panel of car whizzes, including RAA’s motoring expert Mark Borlace, at the recent International Driverless Vehicle Summit in Adelaide.   Watch a recap of the day below and continue reading…

1. Can kids ‘drive’ these vehicles?

What the panel thought: The thought of a child travelling alone in a driverless car might sound scary, but they’ll probably be more tech-savvy with the system than adults. Having an in-built robo-nanny to get children to and from locations safely might give parents more peace of mind. It’ll be up to governments to set the laws, but there’s a good possibility the ‘driving’ age will become obsolete.  

2. Will driverless cars be too expensive for the average person to own?

What the panel thought: These days you pay more for better technology and features, but fast-forward to 2027 and people probably won’t even own cars. Just like taxis and Ubers, ride-sharing in driverless cars will be the way most people get around, with them only paying for the distance travelled.  

3. With fewer people behind the wheel, will road rage be a thing of the past?

What the panel thought: People will more than likely get frustrated with the car’s technology rather than other road-users.  

4. How will cities and roads change?

What the panel thought: Driverless cars will either be a dream or nightmare for city planners. There could be dedicated lanes for these vehicles or they may mix in with old-fashioned cars (you know, the ones with people behind a steering wheel). Either way, our streetscape will change. Plus, people will probably be willing to live further out and spend a bit longer in the car during their daily commute, as they’ll be able to use that time, say, reading a book.  

5. Will people who are blind be able to ‘drive’ driverless cars?

What the panel thought: Humans won’t technically drive these cars; they’ll rely on technology rather than a person to get them from A to B. It’s important though that the person travelling in the car has a good understanding of the technology and how it operates.  

6. How will the car communicate with other road users?

What the panel thought: Before pedestrians cross the road, they usually make eye contact with motorists to signal their intention, but what happens when there’s no one behind the wheel? That’s where special features will come in handy, such as lasers that may project an image letting the pedestrian know the car has recognised them and that it’s safe to cross.