Drones vs Driverless Cars who will win?

Driverless cars have been a dream for so long, and just in the past few years, the technology has been
developed to bring that dream ever closer to reality. It’s something we have yearned for, something that we can see the benefit of. Why? Because we all have a car already, and we know that if we have a few too many at the local watering hole, it would be great to get in and tell Jeeves – your friendly robot driver – that you need to be taken home (diverting to a kebab shop en route!).

The car is a vehicle with pedigree, with history, with a proven track record. A drone is not.

Cars are our travel opiate, most of us could not function without one; we need them and rely on them to get us to places in comfort and safety.

Just in the UK alone, there are over 30 million registered cars occupying nearly 250,000 miles of road. To put that into perspective, that’s 120 cars per mile of road in the UK – and remember, that is just cars. Congestion is a problem on many major routes because of the volume of cars.

Automation will undoubtedly help in the battle of congestion. Cars that can communicate with each other and form mesh networks to enable intelligent navigation will help ease the flow on our roads and keep us moving. We are so ready for this, that in 2017, a pilot scheme is being run in Bristol, Coventry, Greenwich and Milton Keynes to test driverless cars on our public roads.

Exciting times, wouldn’t you agree?

Drones. UAV’s. SUAS. RPAS, or whatever you want to call them, only have a recent history; and for much of that it was the military we associated the word ‘drone’, but that is starting to change.

Over the past few years, the word “drone” has changed its essence to mean something altogether different from its militarised beginnings. Drones are now small, cheap little things that you put cameras on. This sea change is propelling a new industry, and the UK is at the forefront.

The drone is set to change the way we view aerial transportation and logistics. Technology development in this field is accelerating at an exponential pace as more and more stakeholders realise that there are huge opportunities in the years ahead.

Why then do we find that drones are struggling to win the hearts and minds of the general public? After all, the driverless car has much of the same autonomous technology.

There are many reasons why the drone will have to fight for its right to survive over driverless cars, not least of which is privacy. But it is interesting that a driverless car is scattered with cameras and other sensors that take and record data in order to navigate. Where is this data held? Is it recording you as you walk down the pavement minding your own business? Who has access to that data? Do you even care?

Surely, the same issues that drones have, apply to the driverless car too?

Our love affair with the car goes back generations. Drones are a new phenomenon and will have to prove themselves first before we give them the same credibility.

The Department for Transport in the UK is embracing this new technology, and in concert with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), they are encouraging the small drone industry to thrive.

So, while the driverless car is welcomed with open arms, the drone will take a little more time to be as loved. But given that it is a new breed of aircraft, I think it has done pretty well to become so entwined into popular culture already. In another few years, who knows, your driverless car will take you to your pilotless plane for your holidays!