In cities, driverless cars could cut congestion. A recent simulation at the University of Texas of a city with driverless cars prowling for business found that passengers need wait an average of 18 seconds for a driverless vehicle to show up and that each shared autonomous vehicle could replace 11 conventional cars. A study by Columbia University concluded that a driverless vehicle fleet could cut the cost of transport by 80 per cent compared with a personally owned vehicle driven 10,000 miles a year — not counting the reduction in parking costs and the value of time not spent at the wheel….
They will never be flawless, but nor are drivers. Insurance needs sorting out. Yet KPMG reckons that the driverless revolution may save up to 2,500 lives by 2030, and points out that Britain has a technological head start in all the relevant industries, so there is every reason to think we can become a centre of excellence in connected and autonomous driving, and get 320,000 jobs out of it.
Alongside this kind of stuff, I just cannot help feeling that a very fast train, built at glacial speed (half a mile a week) over many years of consultation, review and challenge as it punches through Nimbyland, and at up to nine times the cost per mile of French high-speed rail, feels like a white elephant waiting to happen.