Driverless Cars Won’t Be a Reality Anytime Soon, BMW Chief Says

BMW is already operating a fleet of self-driving vehicles as part of a development program, but that’s not to say you should expect to see them on the roads in the UK anytime soon.
BMW chief says fully autonomous cars will never be allowed on the roads for safety reasons 4 photos
Photo: BMW
BMW M850i Spied Drifting on the NurburgringBMW M850i Spied Drifting on the NurburgringBMW M850i Spied Drifting on the Nurburgring
If anything, driverless cars may never be allowed on the roads – and nor should they be, Dr. Ian Robertson, BMW special representative to the UK, said during a recent industry summit, as cited by

The statement could be seen as contradictory to the company’s efforts and controversial given the push for fully autonomous vehicles from all sides in the industry, but it’s grounded in reality. At the end of the day, you can’t hand over the right of life and death to a machine, Dr. Robertson says.

That means that, unless the state intervenes and creates a “perfect” system that would allow a driverless car with minimum risk to pedestrian, you won’t see them on the roads. For the time being, the system is far from perfect, the BMW chief stresses.

“It won’t be too long before Government says, or regulators say, that in all circumstances [fully autonomous cars] will not be allowed,” he explains.

“Imagine a scenario where the car has to decide between hitting one person or the other to choose whether to cause this death or that death. What is it going to do? Access the diary of one and ascertain they are terminally ill and so should be hit? I don’t think that situation will ever be allowed,” Dr. Robertson adds.

The way he sees it, fully autonomous cars could be allowed in specially designed zones, like “roped-off” areas of cities or motorways, or other areas where you could have complete control over pedestrian traffic. This would remove decision-making from the machine, and it could function safely.

The statement goes against what Mercedes’ Christoph von Hugo said in 2016, when he suggested it would be ok for the car to decide to kill a pedestrian, if it meant saving the passengers inside. Wrecking the vehicle to save the pedestrian was not an option, since that would put passengers at risk, he added.

At the same summit, Dr. Robertson added that BMW cars will never come without a steering wheel, as occupants will always want to have the possibility of control, regardless of whether they use it or not.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram X (Twitter)
About the author: Elena Gorgan
Elena Gorgan profile photo

Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories