Remote controlled driverless cars hit the road in Milton Keynes

The remote-controlled cars are the kind you can buy from the hobby shop, they are full-sized and already in use!

Imperium Drive, Fetch, MK Dons, Driverless Cars

REMOTE-CONTROLLED cars usually conjure up memories of Christmas and birthdays spent building a Tamiya kit before obliterating it 10 minutes later when you crash it into a wall.

Well, that’s generally how it went for me anyway. The remote-controlled cars we are talking about here are vastly different, much larger, and potentially, much more dangerous.

They hail from the Northamptonshire city of Milton Keynes and are ‘controlled’ by a company called fetch, a car rental firm that delivers the vehicle to the customer via radio control. The system works when the customer books the rental car, pays the money and notifies Fetch where they would like it dropped to. A ‘driver’ will then take the car to the customer's destination without ever setting foot in the vehicle.

It’s a slightly unnerving thought, to be sharing the road with a vehicle that is without a driver, although the CEO of the company assures the public that they have put in place ‘robust’ systems in place to prevent drop-outs in signals and so forth. 

Drop-outs in the signal are one thing, but the Law Commission has highlighted another danger that the industry behind services like this might have overlooked - terrorism. It has concluded that remotely driven vehicles could become a target for terrorists, who then use the hijacked vehicle as a kind of mechanical weapon to cause harm to others. In cases like this, the vehicle could be hacked or simply used to cause harm by a rogue operator who is intent on hurting other road users. 

The Law Commission is concerned that the current legal framework for remote or autonomous driving still assumes that a human will physically be behind the wheel of the vehicle, not sitting in a plush office in another part of the country. It’s this factor, and the legislation behind it, that seems to need a significant overhaul before it’s fit for purpose.

Yamaha R125 Review 2023

Yamaha R125 Review 2023 | CBT sports bike tested on Road & Track | Visordown