Electric cars purring silently around the streets while their occupants sleep, eat, read or otherwise entertain themselves is the Google vision for the future.
Tests have been going on for sometime around the streets and interstates of California, and state governor Jerry Brown is pleased enough with the results to ready new laws to pave the way for expanding the network.
Google admits the tests are not without issue – at least two of the driverless cars have collided with each other, although the internet giant claims this was down to remote ‘operator error’.
So, the question is really not if but when driverless cars will hit the roads both in the US and then Europe?
The Insurance Blogger welcomes the prospect of a feet up snooze while driving to the supermarket for the weekly shop, but does have some concerns about what happens when things go wrong.
Of course, Google will build in a human override dual control – but who is responsible if the car is on autodrive and hits another road user – for instance a child who runs out in front of the car.
British traffic law says the person in control of steering and propulsion is the driver of the car, but if that’s a computer or remote operator, the Blogger needs to know that Google are taking on responsibility for the insurance.
And what happens when Google gets 12 points on their licence and faces a six-month driving ban?
I hope that doesn’t mean I can’t go out shopping for six months…although not seeing the in-laws for that time might be a bonus.
Industry insiders reckon 2020 might be a little optimistic for Google’s plans – first the cost of batteries for electric cars needs addressing, as the powerplant for a Ford Focus adds £10,500 to the cost of a petrol version.
But, surely the biggest benefit of autodriving for most motorists will be going down the pub without fear of a breathalyser.