Manchester motoring solicitor Nick ‘Mr Loophole’ Freeman is not persuaded by the government’s plans to open the way to driverless cars.
A report published by the Department for Transport this month enthused about driverless and automated technologies offering ‘enormous’ opportunities, including a better quality of life for those unable or unwilling to take the wheel.
But a baffled Freeman tells Obiter: ‘If you don’t want to drive, get a driver or get on a train.’
He also questions whether the technology will ever be practical: ‘This isn’t like flying an aeroplane. There are thousands of other vehicles on the road. If you get to a busy road, sensors will be going mad and you will never move. The frustration of drivers is immense. Then you’re stuck behind a driverless car? You’re going to really be testing your patience.’
Ever the cynic, Obiter suggested Freeman’s pessimism might stem from a fear of being made redundant by the brave new world.
Quite the reverse, Freeman says, predicting that driverless cars will cause a surge in claims involving tricky legal questions: Who will be responsible if there is a fatal accident?
‘If you accept there might be a need for human intervention, you’re going to need to concentrate all the time you’re in the car. Either concentrate fully, in which case you might as well drive yourself. Or don’t concentrate, in which case you will be seriously prejudiced [if you have to give evidence in court].’
Resolving disputes between robots sounds to us like a challenge for Professor Richard Susskind’s automated online dispute resolution system.