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Horizon: Dawn of the Driverless Car

Thursday 29 June 9 pm BBC2


Taking your driving test has long been a rite of passage – and for many young drivers, one that signals a new phase of their adult life. Now it looks as though the days may be numbered for this particular ordeal.


Horizon takes a look at the new age of driverless cars and speculates that today’s primary school children may never need to take the driving test as we currently know it. Tech companies such as Apple and Google are racing to trial their prototype AI (Artificial Intelligence) cars and the reality of sharing the roads with these looks as if it’s coming sooner than expected.

But what are the implications of this? They may well be wide-ranging, and Horizon mentions just a few, such as the effect on jobs and the ethical impact of accidents and crashes when there is no driver in control.

The programme flits from one aspect of AI to another but the overall message is clear – not only is the driverless car coming to our roads a lot quicker than we think, but we may not be prepared for it. And other applications of AI are also likely to change our lives as well. The programme microsite is at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08wwnwk

According to news reports, a consortium of UK companies is planning to trial a fleet of AI vehicles onto British roads in 2019 – see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-39691540

The introduction of electricity changed our lives in unanticipated ways. Are we ready for the driverless car?