Will you need a Driving Licence for a Self-Driving Car?

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Will you need a Driving Licence for a Self-Driving Car?

Future generations of motorists may find they will not need a driving licence, as we know it today.

The first driving licences in the world were issued back in 1903 in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

If your car can drive itself and has a robot driver, why would you need a license? You are basically travelling in a taxi or a chauffeur driven car.

Back In October, the Department of Motor Vehicles in California announced that it won’t require drivers licences for self-driving cars if the federal government deemed them safe enough.
“If there is no driver, there is no need for a driving license, just as the passenger in a taxi needs no license to get a ride,”
Experts are predicting that licenses will not be required while the car stays within its predefined boundaries, with GPS and geo-fencing limiting the car to its legal limits.

The question remains though that drivers at the moment are still expected, when prompted by the vehicle, to manually take over in the case of an unforeseen emergency.

One thing is for sure, many developments are expected in the next few years. Volkswagen is predicting fleets of self-driving cars will roam cities by 2021, while Toyota predicts the first autonomous vehicles will hit the road by 2020.

In an even bolder prediction, Tesla it wants level five autonomy by the end of 2017. That means fully cross-country road trips, where you will not need a steering wheel at all. Steering wheels will be a thing of the past and practically irrelevant as robot cars will drive better than humans.
To counteract what Tesla is predicting, Gill Pratt who is the Chief Executive of the Toyota Research Institute has said that level five autonomous cars will take “many years of machine learning and many more miles than anyone has logged.”

“One would expect that these vehicles would require no license, thus opening them up for use by those who do not, or cannot, get driver’s licenses,” Peterson says.

This opens up many opportunities for people who are unable to drive a car such as certain groups of disabled people.

Self-driving car technology is irrelevant  if people are also required to pass a test to show they can drive a traditional car “just in case.”

On the other hand, other professional drivers, such as truck drivers may put pressure on legislatures to retain such restrictions, making a safety argument.



Justin Kavanagh
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
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