First self-driving cars will be unmarked to hide from 'bullies'

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

 

Britain’s first self-driving cars will be ‘unmarked’ so that road users will not challenge them, Volvo has revealed.

 

It has been reported that Volvo is planning to launch a self-driving car scheme in the UK that will see 100 self-driving 4x4 vehicles leased to ordinary road users for use on busy roads outside of London. 

 

When the cars are introduced to our roads in 2018, the Swedish manufacture stated that the cars would be completely unmarked so other drivers cannot identify and “bully” the cars, which are programmed to yield to the Highway Code.

 

Erik Coelingh, Volvo’s senior technical leader, said: From the outside you won’t see that it’s a self-driving car.

 

“It would be interesting to have some cars that are marked as self-driving cars and some that are not and see whether other road users react in a different way.”

 

He added: “I would expect they will… I’m pretty sure that people will challenge them if they are marked by doing really harsh braking in front of a self-driving car or putting themselves in the way.”

 

The study surveyed 12,000 drivers in 11 countries and established that drivers who are more “combative” will tend to “see autonomous vehicles as easier agents to deal with on the road” than those with drivers at the wheel.

 

A survey published last month by the London School of Economics found that aggressive drivers would attempt to “bully” the occupants of autonomous vehicles, which they will see as easy pray due to their cars following the rules of the highway.

 

Knowing that the self-driving cars are programmed to avoid collisions and obey the rules of the road at all cost, drivers said that they were actually looking forward to being able to cut these cars off and force them to brake.

 

The House of Lords science and technology committee have begun to take evidence on driverless cars since 1 November, looking at issues such as who is legally accountable for a vehicle that “thinks” for itself.

 

Volvo is also in talks with the UK car insurance industry to establish who would be responsible in different crash situations. At the moment it’s agreed, “if there is a crash and the car is in self-driving mode, even if the driver is reading a newspaper, then we – Volvo – are responsible.”

 

However, Coelingh added that each car will be fitted with cameras, radar and sensors all feeding data into an on-board “black box.” This means that should an accident take place that is caused by another driver, Volvo will know about it and third-party claims will be made.

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