In a joint report released today by the Department for Transport and the AA, driverless cars have been shown to be a ‘completely safe and viable’ means of travelling on the M25, the UK’s busiest road. In a two year test, thousands of cars and vans a day have travelled successfully without human input in the third lane along the four lane stretches of road that now make up most of the motorway.
Relying solely on a modification to existing conventional parking sensors, the cars automatically follow the car in front, slowing down or speeding up as necessary, leaving drivers to chat to passengers, use social media or simply zone out completely. Only when the lane is completely closed or the car is entering or leaving the motorway is any human intervention required.
AA spokesperson Rita Fanum said that the only time the cars are noticeable is when other traffic is moving at high speed or there is little traffic at all, such as the odd Sunday morning.
‘You can sometimes spot a driverless car at these times,’ she said. ‘The inside lanes might be completely empty but the test vehicles remain in the third lane, especially white vans, causing occasional frustration to other road users. And being limited to 65 mph for safety reasons, the cars have been known to leave very long gaps in front, causing holdups as other drivers jostle to get round them and hurl abuse.’
Fanum noted that plans to introduce an alarm to alert drivers of these circumstances were well advanced, but it was sometimes almost impossible to ‘rouse the semi-comatose wankers’, as she put it. ‘We have considered wiring the alarm directly into the amygdala, the brain’s primal fear centre, but for most of the test subjects this organ only appears to react to possible alcohol shortages or the thought of doing something productive.’
Commenting on plans to roll out the vehicles on all roads in the country a DfT press officer said that given the current state of the network, no one would notice a few more cars rolling aimlessly along.