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Driverless vehicle crashes won’t stop increased autonomy in our vehicles

14 May 2015


Google has revealed that its self-driving cars have been in 11 minor traffic accidents since it began experimenting with the technology six years ago.

Speaking ahead of a major conference of driverless vehicles taking place in Greenwich today, Prof Phil Blythe from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) commented that the accidents have happened over 1.7m miles of testing, were minor accidents and not related to the vehicles being driverless – so should not discourage the UK’s move towards driverless cars.

The accident statistics may be of concern to drivers in Greenwich, Bristol, Milton Keynes and Coventry, where driverless trials are taking place.

Prof Blythe said: “Driverless vehicles have huge potential to transform the UK’s transport network. They could improve road safety, reduce congestion and lower emissions.

“The trials – in Greenwich, Bristol, Milton Keynes and Coventry - are very important. They will help address the important challenges to address before these cars can become mainstream on our roads. Public acceptance and trust are crucial, so these trials must get to grips with the best ways to win over everyone from car manufacturers to consumers to the benefits of driverless cars.

“All the technology needed for highly automated vehicles currently exists and are features of our vehicles already, such as stay in lane technology, speed control and reverse parking assistance.

“However, we are unlikely to see fully autonomous vehicles in the very near future but what we will see is increased levels of automation, such as speed and lane control, rather than completely driverless cars. The increased technology in our vehicles will also have a very beneficial effect for older people, allowing them to stay mobile for longer.”

Prof Phil Blythe is a keynote speaker at the IET’s Autonomous Passenger Vehicles: Essential Strategies in Bringing Driverless Cars to Market, taking place today in Greenwich.

Media enquiries to:

Hannah Kellett
External Communications Manager

Tel: +44 (0)1438 767336
Mob: +44 (0)7738 602426
Email: HKellett@theiet.org

Notes to editors:

  • Interview opportunities are available with IET spokespeople from a broad range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and women in engineering.
  • The IET is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with nearly 160,000 members in 127 countries. It is also the most multidisciplinary – to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of engineering in the 21st century. Energy, transport, manufacturing, information and communications, and the built environment: the IET covers them all.
  • The IET is working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing our members, engineers and technicians, and all those who are touched by, or touch, the work of engineers.
  • We want to build the profile of engineering and change outdated perceptions about engineering in order to tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.