First Driverless Cars Permitted in Europe
The UK is the first in Europe to allow driverless cars on public roads and highways. The Ford Mustang Mach-E model allows driverless steering and acceleration using geomapping. For about $30 CAD per month the BlueCruise hands-free driving system uses advanced adaptive cruise control, lane-centering, speed and road sign recognition systems. The driverless Mustang uses radars and cameras to track road markings and other vehicles. Human drivers are still required to remain in their seats and ready to take over. It is usable with 2,300 miles of motorway, which comprises over 95% of the network in England, Scotland and Wales.
In 2019 Great Britain’s National Mapping agency established standards for HD-mapping, which were crucial for driverless cars to become a reality. Far ahead of British Columbia, Britain is now at the edge of a transportation revolution.
Driverless Car Rental Service
People in the UK can now hire an electric car through an app and the vehicle is delivered by a remote operator to any location within a 6.4km radius of the Milton Keynes city centre. The vehicles currently have safety drivers but are controlled by an office based operator. The company. Imperium Drive, expects the safety drivers will not be needed in the near future. When the driver is removed, the vehicle can navigate without a driver in the seat. This system is driverless but not yet autonomous.
In California, Waymo offers driverless rides to a select group of passengers in San Francisco. GM’s Cruise operates a driverless taxi service in a portion of San Francisco during the overnight hours. In Phoenix, a limited number of driverless Cruise vehicles are providing taxi rides and grocery deliveries. Cruise is also running a small driverless taxi service for paying customers in Austin.
In China, company Baidu has obtained the first permit allow driverless taxi rides in three Chinese cities, including Wuhan and Chongqing. Baidu has received a permit to offer fully-driverless rides in Beijing. This is the first company in the world to offer fully driverless rides to the millions in the general public.
Driverless Cars in British Columbia: 2023 Update
In our Province, the government has yet to implement laws that pave the way for driverless or self-driving cars. A recent plan to provide driverless shuttle service to the University of BC, as an example, was cancelled due to lack of government regulation and support. The University and BCAA were investing to bring an electric, low-speed autonomous shuttle to the UBC campus.
ICBC, the government created auto insurance monopoly, says that driverless cars are not permitted in BC. The government of BC has not created a single insurance policy covering driver negligence and automated technology. This despite the recommendations of the Insurance Bureau of Canada( Future of Autonomous Vehicles) . Some solutions could include: 1) establishing a legislated data-sharing arrangement with vehicle manufacturers, designers, owners, insurers to help determine the cause of a collision; 2) updating federal vehicle safety standards; and 3) create Provincial legislation establishing clear rules for liability allocation to manufacturers, designers, programmers of autonomous systems.
The BC Road Safety Strategy 2025 makes refence to the advent of driverless cars but provides no framework for the future. Self-driving vehicles are the future of public transportation and passenger travel. We have had driverless trains in Vancouver since 1985. However other countries such as the USA and China are melding driverless cars with commercial taxis and personal vehicles. This is especially relevant for those who don’t drive or don;t want to drive. Driverless vehicles, unlike a service such as Skytrain, will add better connection to rural communities and suburban communities.
British Columbia currently has no plans to boost the economy or improve road safety by the use of driverless vehicles.