'A sunny day in Florida in May 2016 and Joshua Brown, a veteran of the Iraq War, was in his beloved Tesla Model S sedan — he called it Tessy — cruising U.S. Route 27 in self-drive mode at about 74mph.
Mr Brown, from Ohio, had been on a family trip to Disney World in Orlando and was 37 minutes into his journey home when tragedy struck.
His car collided with an articulated lorry which was turning off the highway across his lane. The Tesla passed under the lorry, sustaining catastrophic damage, before veering off the road and striking two fences and a telegraph pole. Mr Brown died instantly.
This, the first fatality in a driverless (autonomous) car, made headlines around the world. An investigation found that the driverless system had simply failed to ‘see’ the white truck against the bright sky, and so there had been no attempt to brake or divert to avoid the crash.
Three years on, as the Government unveils plans to unleash hordes of driverless cars on to British roads over the next decade — it expects fully self-driving vehicles to be in everyday use within the next two years — one can only pray that advances in technology justify the blind faith being put in it.
In my view, the Department for Transport’s decision to scrap safety rules governing the limited use of prototype driverless cars — including the requirement for a human driver to be present at all times — is beyond reckless.
There’s no due care being shown. Ministers are falling over themselves to ingratiate themselves with driverless car manufacturers, facilitating the large- scale advanced testing of these fully autonomous toys for the first time, away from laboratories and test-driving circuits and on our highways and byways.
The truth is that their safety is unproven and these road-robots have already caused injury and deaths on American roads.
Enthusiasts may dismiss these tragedies as mere teething troubles, but some experts warn they are evidence of fatal flaws which mean such cars shouldn’t ever be allowed on public roads, let alone without human monitors who can grab the wheel when emergencies arise or the computer malfunctions. (As the Mail reported this week, some of the autonomous cars permitted on our roads under the new rules won’t even have a steering wheel to grab.)'
Read more: Britain's driverless revolution will be a car crash as safety rules are recklessly scrapped
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