Evening Standard letters: Driverless cars would require unacceptable changes

Catherine Hutt, of Addison Lee, has fallen for the driverless-car hype put out by the tech companies [“London must plan ahead for the rise of the robot car,” August 1]. None of the technical hurdles has been overcome, as the death of a woman killed by a driverless car in Arizona  in March shows, and there are massive legal, insurance, software, hardware and regulatory issues that remain to be addressed. Few people want these cars and no realistic business model for their adoption has been put forward.

As Hutt says, other users such as cyclists and pedestrians will have to be banned from the roads in order not to get in their way. It sounds like a dystopian vision that can never be implemented. Don’t worry, it will probably never happen. How, for example, will the supporters of these vehicles solve the problem of security, given that anyone stepping in front of a driverless car will be able to stop it and attack the occupants?
Christian Wolmar 

  • Paul Holt

    CW might be missing a bigger target. Given they run on dedicated track with dedicated signalling, driverless trains might be closer than driverless cars. Is Docklands Light Railway not driverless?

  • Ken Johnson

    A recent incident at my local station answers your question. A mother boarded the train at Kingsknowe and managed to leave her four year old child on the platform. The child set off to walk along the track towards Wester Hailes. A train coming the other way managed to stop in time, but its crew then had to stop all trains on both tracks, get the child on board, and hand him to the Police or Social Services at the next station. It is inconceivable that a robot train could have handled this incident and very likely that a robot train would have run the child over.

  • Gosh what a story – why did she not stop the train???

  • Ken Johnson

    Possibly on drugs, spoke no English or had no idea how to stop the train. I have to say I can’t remember off-hand where the emergency stop handles are.