To many people, the concept of driverless vehicles sounds like a pipe dream, and an unrealistic proposition. Many motorists around the UK love driving their vehicles at every opportunity, and are so immersed in tradition that convincing them to change their driving habits will be near impossible. As we approach the MCAV ‘future of transport’ event on the 27th June, we are hoping to take one step closer to the driverless revolution but – as with any revolution – people resistant to change may provide the biggest obstacle we face, as we attempt to convince them how changing to driverless vehicles will be beneficial for them.
The MCAV event will get people talking about driverless cars, and we hope that the industry will be boosted as we build a community of people, striving to achieve the same goal. Help needs to come from other areas however, such as the British government. They have the platform to raise awareness through key discussions and messages, as well as providing incentives to UK cities who adopt greener driving practices. This article discusses some of the incentives currently in place, and focuses on the need for change by looking at what air pollution is like in some of our UK cities.
Where are we now?
It has been reported that British cities contain air pollution that exceeds what is deemed to be safe. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) have stated over 90% of us are inhaling air which is polluted. This is an extraordinary statistic, making one wonder why we are not more aware and conscious of the health risks we face? The WHO have also stated that one in four deaths for young people under the age of five are due to environmental conditions, affecting aspects such as contaminated water and polluted air.
As things stand, Britain are at risk of facing legal action in the European court of justice as we are exceeding the levels of nitrogen dioxide permitted in the atmosphere. At a time when our economy can scarcely afford to cope with many more fines, urgent work is required to improve these statistics. Aside from our economy, we surely have a moral obligation to improve the state of our living environment, for future generations? So, what are our government doing to improve how we live?
Incentives for greener cars
When looking at our current transport legislation, there are some benefits to owning a greener car. The government are currently offering reasonably-sizeable grants towards the purchase of new plug-in cars, vans and motorcycles. This will help new car-owners to purchase a brand new mode of transport, providing certain conditions are met. It is important for our British government to show a willingness to support new car owners, whilst working towards improving environmental conditions, and the grant being offered will benefit many people.
If you own a green car, you will also be more likely to pay less road tax than other vehicles. Owners of hybrid cars, for example, often pay less tax than drivers of standard vehicles. That said, legislation does not seem to be as generous on green car owners as it once was and with a new election due to take place shortly, things could change again!
If you have a green car which is fully electric or hydrogen fuelled, the London congestion charge is not applicable to you. This offers another incentive to owners of greener cars, and they can feel good about limiting the damage they are doing to the air breathed by residents of London. Raising awareness of this helps to combat air pollution, as people who drive other vehicles may realise the damage that their car is doing. For greener cars out there, some incentives are in place. But what about incentives for driverless cars?
What incentives are there to promote driverless vehicles?
Millions of pounds have been awarded to cities who promote green vehicle technology; London, Nottingham and Milton Keynes have all been included within the list. Around £40 million have been given to cities, to boost the driverless vehicle industry – helping to speed up the transition to autonomous vehicles. Some very innovative ideas were proposed by the cities who won funding, such as using street lighting ‘doubling up’ to charge vehicles. For London and Nottingham in particular, reducing carbon dioxide emissions cannot come soon enough as both cities are in the top 10 worst areas of Britain.
Funding has also been awarded to other technological companies, such as Conigital, who are working on developing driverless vehicles. Projects such as ‘Synergy’ which connects Stockport railway station to Manchester airport will raise awareness of the technology available.
Further awareness will be raised at the MCAV ‘future of transport’ event on the 27th June, at Birmingham’s iCentrum. We would love to see a huge crowd of people debating and discussing issues concerned with the autonomous vehicle industry. If you are interested in becoming a member or sponsor for the event, please get in touch with us as soon as possible.
By Neil Phipps
Photo by Automobile Italia