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Barriers to automation

I read Alan Millar’s article on automated driving on fully-automated buses with interest (Buses July). Having latterly worked in the field of transport research at the European Commission, automated road vehicles have been a “sexy” topic for several years and already in 2018 Volvo was demonstrating a bus in Gothenburg.

The technical issues that allow a vehicle to operate autonomously are paramount – but, I would suggest, these will not be the determining factor in the deployment of automotive vehicle technology.

Rather, for it to be deployed it would require a sea-change in health and safety legislation. Today, one can see some fullyautomated metro lines, but these always feature platform doors to prevent passengers falling under approaching trains. Clearly, an equivalent approach for bus stops is not realistic – and that is even before one considers the activities happening in front of a moving vehicle in normal operations on the open roads. Can you imagine an automated bus running along London’s Oxford Street with pedestrians flitting across the road at every opportunity?

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