When people discuss the future of motoring, especially in urban planning, discussions focus on the green agenda. Meanwhile, the automotive sector focuses on developing green powered vehicles, vehicle to vehicle, and vehicle to infrastructure connectivity. You could be forgiven for thinking that the next driving revolution is just around the corner? However, the truth is, Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) technology is so far down the road that you shouldn't worry about it just yet.

Green Vehicles

Most automotive manufacturers currently produce hybrid and electric vehicles. Urban authorities are constantly legislating against vehicle particulate pollution to meet clean air standards. Whilst such legislation changes are encouraging more motorists to switch to hybrid and EV vehicles, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, electric vehicles currently account for only 1.8 percent of new vehicle registrations within the United Kingdom.

Furthermore, motorists who drive outside of urban areas or who have high daily mileage requirements, have developed range anxiety towards electric vehicles. A fear of running out of power, this anxiety is not without grounds. There are only 4300 charging locations within the UK, according to Zap-Map. Without a better infrastructure to cater to the needs of electric vehicles, their growth will remain limited, and the need for petrol and diesel-powered vehicles will remain.

Autonomous vehicles

Driverless cars, are the talk of the future, but are they really viable? Those people who use autonomous parking, may think that it is, but experts in the field have their doubts. According to Wilko Stark, these vehicles do not perform well in poor weather.

Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) have been undergoing trials in the UK for several years. Testing of these vehicles has taken a step forward in Birmingham and Coventry, with a new trial in a fully connected infrastructure, under the supervision of the National Automotive Innovation Centre at Warwick University. This trial, which uses wireless networks to create a fully connected urban infrastructure over 50 miles of road, is costing £25 million.

CAV Infrastructure

With an estimated 245.4 thousand miles of roads in the UK, the cost of providing a fully connected infrastructure throughout the UK is somewhat prohibitive. The demands of rural environments would be completely different from urban localities, with additional infrastructure costs.

The connectivity technology which is required for a large-scale CAV roll-out would be global in its reach, and specific standards and agreed legislation would be required for crossing international borders. The technologies used within CAV’s would need to be usable in multiple countries and compatible with international traffic rules.

Drivers in the real-world sometimes need to make split-second decisions. At other times, under official guidance, they may need to deliberately disobey certain traffic rules. The processing power, and software programming required for autonomous cars to successfully negotiate every potential eventuality on the road, far exceeds current capabilities.

Pure Pleasure

Finally, part of being a driver is the pleasure gained by driving. The physical sensations of controlling a vehicle, and the feeling of power. A lot of people who drive, will not want to give up control to a computer. In the end, unless the psychology of driving changes, CAV’s will be a long way off.

Connected Autonomous Vehicles are still years away