A bikers’ campaign is criticising official trials of driverless cars, claiming the legal, social and libertarian issues have not been considered.
The Motorcycle Action Group is concerned about liability in the event of accidents, for example a driverless car hitting a motorbike. Last month, four cities in England began trials of driverless cars with £10m of Government funding. However Lembit Öpik, the MAG’s director of communications, said: ‘The idea owes more to Hollywood than it does to highways policy.
What if a car breaks down in the middle of the street? You must have a manual override.
‘What if someone indicates left and turns right? What if a blow-out causes you to veer across a lane? Humans make mistakes, but software isn’t faultless either.
‘If we want long-distance fast travel, the Government should be investing in trains and planes. That’s the way for the public to have driverless journeys.’
Driverless motorbikes were technically possible but would be unpopular because they would take the fun out of biking. ‘It would be like getting a robot to go take your wife out to the restaurant,’ he said. ‘Biking is a lifestyle choice, with positive environmental and congestion benefits.’
Dedicating certain highways to autonomous vehicles could marginalise motorbikes, he claimed. ‘Unless they’ve got a lane to themselves, I don’t see how they could co-exist with driverless cars.’ Mr Öpik, a former Liberal Democrat MP who flies light aircraft, also suggested autonomous vehicles would require safety inspections and maintenance on a par with aviation, putting them beyond ordinary people’s means.