The Future of Autonomous Car Rental in a Driverless World

driverless carsTechnology is continuously evolving, with the innovations being invented and developed having the power to change life as we know it. One such innovation that has dominated tech headlines in recent years is the driverless car. Whilst the very first driverless car got its initial test run in the 1920s, it was Google that brought the technology back to the forefront more recently. After beginning its self-driving car project in 2009, Google has inspired countless technology companies to go one better. Now a range of companies, including Samsung, Huawei, Nvidia and Uber, are making driverless cars alongside major car manufacturers such as Volkswagen, Volvo, BMW and Tesla.

With this much investment, driverless cars will be on the road sooner than we think, but when will this be? And will there come a time when you’ll be able to rent one?

When will self-driving cars be used in the UK?

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling recently revealed that driverless cars will soon be tested on UK roads. This news comes after a short, three-week trial was held last year across a two-mile circuit close to London’s O2 Arena. The trial saw 100 motorists take their prototypes for test runs, and is certain to provide the basis for the driverless car technology being tested on the open road this year. It’s not just driverless cars that will be rigorously tested in the coming months and years. The government recently announced £8.1 million investment in the trial of driverless lorries, self-driving vehicles that you may soon see on British motorways.

The Modern Transport Bill will ensure that the UK stays at the very forefront of self-driving technology. It is hoped that fully driverless vehicles will be in use in the UK by 2021.

Can I rent a driverless car?

There are some parts of the world, the US for instance, where self-driving cars are in use and even available for rental. Uber is one company that has pushed the use of self-driving cars. These cars do have human supervision, as the driver sits at the front of the vehicle, but are completely self-driving. In the UK however, the deadline of 2021 still remains and it is unlikely that you will be able to purchase or hire a driverless car until after then.

There is even talk that British drivers will have to pass a new driving test in order to own or hire a driverless car.

How will driving change?

In a bid to improve safety and prevent the accidents that have been happening with the use of driverless technology, drivers may need to learn new skills in order to successfully deactivate a driverless car’s autonomous mode and regain manual control.

Worryingly, research gathered by AXA and Burges Salmon found that it takes drivers up to three seconds to take over a driverless vehicle. This may not sound like a long time but when driving at 70mph, a vehicle can travel up to 308 feet during this three second period. The proposed new driving test will provide assurances that owners of driverless cars can regain control in a shorter space of time. Ahead of the 2021 deadline, it’s likely insurers will set premiums based on a driver’s control of an autonomous vehicle. The government is also expected to form laws that prevent drivers from sleeping, reading or watching films in their driverless vehicles to improve safety further.

Whilst renting a driverless car may be in the not so distant future at the moment, unlocking the benefits of a rental vehicle isn’t. View our range of rental cars for vehicles for all occasions.