As cars, buses, coaches and even motorbikes become autonomous (self-driving), there will be no need for any road signs, traffic lights, variable speed-limit overhead signage, speed cameras (see my post on no speed limits), no road markings or even Pelican or Zebra crossings. Would we even need to have pavements raised up from the road? Gone too would be the traffic cone; all consigned to history. A single database like Google maps detailing the road features, used by all vehicles would be used by all vehicles, perhaps overlaid with data on local features that don’t appear (yet) in Google.
We would also need a set of “rules” governing how vehicles behave and programmed into every vehicles management system: For example between 8am-9am Monday to Friday a mandatory 10mph speed limit perhaps 100m either side of the school entrance, but only during term time of course.
There would be benefits in terms of lower road maintenance costs, quicker repairs (no line painting) and I can imagine much simpler and less expensive road design, without the need for roundabouts or other complicated junction structures to help human drivers navigate without crashing.
Perhaps the most interesting benefit, would be a less cluttered street design. Would we plant a tree in place of every 30mph speed limit signpost?
Speeds on roads should not be limited at all. I can see Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond agreeing with this on The Grand Tour and even James May (no pun intended). Why, how, are you mad, you think.
I recently read an article stating that the partial introduction of autonomous vehicles (self-driving) would slow traffic down, which sounds daft. But it made me think about the time when all vehicles are autonomous, and programmed to learn about the road it’s driving on, weather conditions, other vehicles behaviour and how it’s functioning; tyre wear, load distribution, braking efficiency and all this data is linked to an almighty AI system, no doubt linked to IBM’s Watson computer. Now the car is better at determining how fast it can safely travel than arbitrary rules, so speed limits become irrelevant. The only determining factor now is programming the car’s probability of crashing, which should be set by the government and the absolute speed that the car could attain.
What a week its been; in London UK, we have fog that is holding vehicle pollution making it difficult for some people to breath easily, Heathrow and London City airport have cancellations and on the M1 in Yorkshire, they are considering a 60 mph speed limit at rush hour to curb pollution and Bernie Ecclestone has been replaced in F1, and of course Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May in Amazon Prime’s The Grand Tour is funnier than Top Gear ever was. So these are some of the subjects I’m going to comment on this week.