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Driverless cars will not transform travel and are distraction from public transport - claim

Lee Baker
11 April 2016

Driverless cars will not change travel and are a distraction from public transport, claims transport journalist and Labour politician Christian Wolmar.

Wolmar claims in the New Statesman that despite promises of a "driverless car revolution" a "takeover of the mainstream transport system is about as likely as the long-awaited arrival of the futuristic jet packs of 1960s comic books".

He said that the cars would need to be 100% autonomous to be transformational, but notes that the "fully autonomous cars" promised for the coming years will not be completely automatic and would not in any event be accepted by the public. He says the danger is that "politicians will assume that the driverless revolution obviates the need to search for solutions to more urgent problems, such as congestion and pollution".

"Why bother to build infrastructure, or to push for road pricing, if we will all end up in autonomous pods? Google all but confesses that its autonomous cars are intended to be an alternative to public transport – the opposite of a rational solution to the problems that we face."

The intervention of the contender for the Labour mayoral candidate comes after the Government last month backed trials of driverless vehicles on the strategic road network in the Budget, following forthcoming trials on streets of south London in the summer.

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