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    How will self-driving cars be integrated into conventional road traffic? Will they share road space with normal driven vehicles?

    Conventional cars are expected to remain on public roads for decades to come, meaning that automated vehicles will have to share road-space with human drivers for the foreseeable future. It is possible that vehicles could be segregated – for example, having separate roads or lanes for self-driving vehicles – but creating specific infrastructure could prove costly and even unfeasible in countries where space is already at a premium. Ideally therefore, automated vehicles will be able to operate in conventional road traffic alongside regular human drivers.

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    What effect will automated cars have on congestion and the environment?

    The effect on congestion will depend a great deal on the speed at which fully automated vehicles enter the mainstream and the business models that accompany them. If people continue to want their own individual vehicle, the impact of self-driving vehicles will not be as dramatic as the scenario in which people can call up automated transport as and when they need it. UK Autodrive will carry out research to further investigate the possible effects on congestion, but one study carried out by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, using transport data provided by Singapore, suggested that the Southeast Asian state could reduce the number of cars on its streets by a third by adopting automated vehicle technology. A 2015 OECD report based on car usage in Lisbon suggested that a city-wide self-driving taxi service combined with high capacity public transport could reduce the number of cars on the roads by anything up to 90%. As well as leading to a reduction in the total number of cars, automated vehicles are expected to drive more efficiently and are also increasingly likely to be fitted with electric motors (due to their ability to dock and recharge themselves in between pick-ups), all of which should combine to lessen the amount of harmful emissions released into the environment.

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  • Will I be able to use a driverless car to get home if I have been out drinking?

    For the foreseeable future, “driverless” cars will still require the presence of a human passenger who is capable of taking back control of the vehicle if necessary. In the longer term, it is hoped that fully automated vehicles will be able to operate without any human assistance – potentially benefiting disabled users, those who are too young or too old to drive, and also those who find themselves over the drink-driving limit…

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    What about people who enjoy driving? Will human drivers eventually be banned?

    There are no signs of humans being banned from driving anytime in the foreseeable future. In fact, the most immediate scenarios for automated driving are on single-direction highways and in traffic jams – when the driving experience is usually at its least enjoyable – leaving drivers free to still enjoy the pleasures of an open road. As we move towards fully automated systems, people are likely to be given the choice as to when they want to drive, and when they wish to let the car take the strain.

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    When can I buy one?

    Cars are already available with increasing levels of automation, even if they only offer options such as parking assistance or adaptive cruise control. Putting an exact date on the arrival of highly- or fully-automated vehicles is difficult due to a number of remaining issues including technological readiness, legal frameworks, insurance, security and public acceptance. It also remains to be seen whether fully-automated vehicles will be “bought” by individuals or rather used on a book-when-needed basis.

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    Wouldn't it be better to improve the public transport system (buses, trains etc.)?

    As mentioned elsewhere in these FAQs, self-driving vehicles should help to reduce our reliance on individually owned cars and should be seen as complementary to public transport – or even blurring the lines between private and public transport. Buses and trains will continue to be useful on popular routes and may themselves also operate increasingly without drivers. A truly efficient automated transport system would eventually link up bus and train networks with individual cars and pods – allowing people to move effortlessly wherever they want to go and regardless of the types of vehicle that get them there.

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