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Self-driving cars to be tested on Stockport’s roads this year

by Iain Roberts on 18 January, 2019

The Manchester Evening News is reporting that autonomous, or self-driving, cars are expected to be tested on Stockport’s roads in 2019. A convoy of cars will be trialed running from Stockport Station to Manchester Airport via the new relief road.

The MEN says:

Three of these will be rolled out, running from Stockport railway station, down the A6, on to the 10km bypass which links to the M56 via the A555, where they will travel in ‘platoon’ or ‘convoy’ to Manchester Airport.

The GTM will always have a driver in it to monitor the trial and take over the controls if necessary.

This trial will not include passengers from the public and will be purely for research purposes.

The sports cars will run in ‘convoy’ with the goal of saving energy by reducing drag and taking up less road space to look at future ways of improving congestion.

The trials are due to take place in December 2019 and January 2020. The current predictions are that fully-autonomous cars will be driving properly on roads in Greater Manchester by 2021.


10 Responses

  1. John Hartley says:

    Call me old-fashioned, but I find this to be quite scary.

  2. Jane says:

    Am I missing something here? I’m not sure what the point is of driverless cars, can someone enlighten me? We are told to use public transport rather than cars, we are told to carshare so there’s less cars on the road & soon there will be cars driving round with nobody at the wheel or possibly nobody in them at all??

    • Iain Roberts says:

      Hi Jane – driverless cars have a few benefits, including:
      – safer (though the experts reckon they’ll have to be about a thousand times safer than regular cars for us to accept them)
      – spend more time on the road. The cars that we drive are parked for 95% of the time, meaning that we give huge amounts of space over to car parking. Driverless cars give the opportunity to move away from those private cars. We could convert car parks into green parks, or into homes that we build in town centres instead of on the Green Belt.
      – better road use. Driverless cars can travel close together in convoys, meeting we can fit more cars onto the same road space.

      They aren’t the answer to everything: cycling, walking and public transport will always be important. But they do look likely to be an important part of our transport system in 20-30 years time. One likely outcome is far fewer people own their own cars. Why would you, when you can call a cheap, safe driverless taxi to pick you up in minutes.

      And there are a lot of issues still to iron out, but the progress in the last few years has been huge.

  3. Chris Hornby says:

    A lot of drivers I encounter these days should not be allowed behind the steering wheel, this includes young and old! So a driverless car would seem to be a step in the right direction.
    As the report says they will move in a convoy, slowing down and moving at the same time thus avoiding the back up caused by drivers moving at different speeds.
    One thing is certain the pleasure of being behind the wheel on an open road has long since passed, it is time to move on!

    • Robert Cohen says:

      If we were to get driverless cars overnight and all others were taken off the road this would possibly work if the technology was 100% reliable. However, if the technology works in the same way as when I have used cruise control on my awful Lexus then its too slow to react in everyday driving when I’ve experimented with it. we are relying too much on this kind of technology way too soon. I think we will see more accidents.I also believe that traffic will be slower and cyclists will need to be even more careful when whizzing in and out of traffic.

      • John M says:

        “If we were to get driverless cars overnight and all others were taken off the road this would possibly work if the technology was 100% reliable. ” I agree totally with you Robert, and I work with advance technology and AI. There is so much hype around this topic, but the technology is far too immature yet, maybe in 15 years ? It is important that local government takes a balanced view and is not taken in by all the hype.

  4. IK says:

    Whilst understanding that driverless cars may (on the whole) become safer than SOME human drivers, can I ask who one will sue when the driverless car is at fault (assuming we go beyond having a backup human driver to blame ’cause he/she didn’t realise fast enough that the car had got it wrong!!)? Do we sue the car, or the programmers (who misinformed the manufacturer that it was OK), or the government (which was stupid enough to allow it), or the public who were daft enough to elect politicians who trusted computers? I love using computers but, having worked as a software engineer for most of my life, I DO NOT TRUST THEM!!

    • Iain Roberts says:

      Hi IK – the issue of insurance and liability is indeed one that needs to be resolved. As you point out, there are a number of options and lawmakers just need to decide which one they’re going with.

      I get what you’re saying with computers, but then again we all trust computers every day in almost everything we do. Clearly the level of safety on a car has to be much higher than on a phone app, but the same is surely true of the computers than manage the trains, aeroplanes, power plants, traffic lights and all the other safety-critical systems we rely on day-to-day.

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