The future is almost here. Back in the days when science fiction was optimistic rather than dystopian, we were promised all sorts of mobility boons: moving pavements to spare us the trouble of walking, jetpacks to propel us from A to B at hernia-inducing speed and, of course, driverless cars, which would never crash, never lose their way and never make their passengers worry about breath-testing, directions or competence.
Needless to say, jetpacks are mentioned in nobody’s dispatches and the high-speed moving walkway installed in 2002 at the Paris Metro’s Montparnasse station was quietly abandoned a few years later after a series of passenger tumbles. Driverless cars, however, are a more realistic proposition entirely.
When it comes to development, the United Kingdom inevitably lags behind the technical behemoth that is Silicon Valley, where the market leader, Google-affiliated Waymo, has already tested autonomous vehicles on ten million miles of public roads in 25 cities since 2009 and run billions of miles of computer simulations.