Autonomous vehicle technology is streets ahead of autonomous vehicle policy
“This is probably the reason that autonomous mobility is not moving as fast as it could be,” says Violeta Bulc, former EU Commissioner for Transport. Ms Bulc is better positioned than most to pass judgement, having led the drafting of European Union regulations around driverless vehicles in 2018.
The death of Elaine Herzberg that same year gave legislators pause for thought. The 49 year-old Arizona resident died after being hit by a driverless SUV travelling at 40mph. Chris Choa, urban strategist and Executive Director at Outcomist, doesn’t seek to play down this, or similar, tragedies. He does, though, insist that driverless cars, by reducing the scope for human error on our roads, promise a future in which vehicular fatalities are fewer.
“What’s going to ultimately drive the adoption of driverless technology is that it’s going to be safer,” he says. “As the technology improves, safety levels will increase.”
Proponents of this argument have thus far struggled to win over the sceptics. Perception, it seems, is everything. It’s estimated that, each year, 1.35 million people are killed on the world’s roads, but these deaths are rarely deemed newsworthy. Meanwhile, accidents involving driverless cars, though rare, make international headlines.