By almost universal consensus, driverless vehicles are coming and represent as big a disruption to the transport sector as the replacement of horses with the automobile over a hundred years ago.
For all that time, we have relied upon our animal brains and reflexes to guide people and cargo to their destinations. Those days, as we are told on a regular basis by engineers, journalists, and politicians alike, are fast drawing to a close. While there is undoubtedly a fair amount of hype surrounding driverless vehicles, even the most sober experts working in the field say that within the next ten years, there are likely to be vehicles that can usefully operate on their own with a high degree of safety on at least some roads. In fact, if the most recent reports are correct, the technology is already here in a limited form. In November 2017, the Google/Alphabet subsidiary Waymo announced that it had developed and was operating vehicles on public roads that drove themselves without human supervision. And the new Audi A8 sedan is capable, according to its manufacturer, of driving itself on the highway without supervision. The Waymo vehicles are not yet available to the public, but the Audi A8 has been for sale in Europe since September 2017.
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