Think of all those technologies that were predicted to set the world on fire but just didn’t – Segways, Google glasses, Sinclair C5 and Amazon Fire Phone to name a few
The DLR, the driverless, automated light metro system servicing East London was a large part of my eldest son’s early years. We’d sit at the front of the train and go visit the exciting building sites in East London on a regular basis. What young child doesn’t like hard hats, cranes and diggers? And as for being a passenger on a train that had no driver, well it was a total adventure (as well a s a cheap afternoon out).
I was reminded of these happy days with the news of the first public automated shuttle bus trials in Greenwich, so close to where we used to live.
These automated vehicles seem to have caught the imagination of a healthy section of the public with 5, 000 registering to take part in a trial that is set to last three weeks.
I’m hoping the public are going to behave themselves around these conscientious vehicles. My teenage sons would certainly enjoy the thrill of throwing themselves in front of the AV to prove that it worked, or would try to race it whilst taking selfies.
Thankfully ‘Harry’ as the prototype trial vehicle is called, has a trained person on board who can stop the vehicle if things start to go wrong. I only hope he/she is immune to motion sickness with all the potential starts and stops that could occur; it could prove to be an automotive equivalent of Pinter dialogue.
This trial is not so much about the technology, but rather how the public responds to ‘Harry’. It’s an important piece of research because without public buy-in, technology just doesn’t take off. Think of all those technologies that were predicted to set the world on fire but just didn’t – Segways, Google glasses, Sinclair C5 and Amazon Fire Phone to name a few.
Autonomous vehicles have an equal amount of solid pros and cons associated with them. They look set to be a part of our future but how far this goes, and what their functions and applications will be is still up for discussion. In the meantime, if you want to catch one live, get down to Greenwich.