AGM 2017 and Is Society Ready for Driverless Cars?

Driverless Cars

The 2017 Annual General Meeting for BCS Mid-Wales will be held on Thursday 5th October. This starts at 6.15pm in MP-0.15 (Physics Main) in the Physical Sciences building at Aberystwyth University. A map is available. The AGM agenda is available.

Immediately following the AGM, we are pleased to invite Prof. Martyn Thomas to talk about ‘Is Society Ready for Driverless Cars?’ An abstract and biography is available below. You may remember that Martyn came to talk about The Dilemmas of Big Data, in January 2014.

There will drinks and a light buffet available from 5.45 in the Physics Foyer, outside the room.


The event is free and open to all. Please register to attend at eventbrite.

Is Society Ready for Driverless Cars?

A lecture by Martyn Thomas CBE FREng

The amount of automation in cars has been steadily increasing for decades—early examples include anti-lock brakes, central locking, anti-theft devices, automatic transmission, and air bags. There is no doubt that automation will lead to full autonomy in many vehicle applications, as it already has in elevators, on some rail lines and elsewhere. This lecture focuses on the progress towards full autonomy in automobiles, where there seems to be an announcement every week that fully driverless cars and lorries will be arriving soon but where there are many questions that have not yet been answered.

The UK Government has been encouraging, consulting on and facilitating the development and introduction of driverless cars (autonomous vehicles or AVs) and in February 2017 published a draft Bill to legislate for their compulsory insurance. These documents show that the Government expects AVs to be introduced in the UK in “five to ten years” – that is, between 2022 and 2027. Meanwhile, car manufacturers have introduced or announced cars that can drive themselves, and it seems certain that many cars will be driving themselves on UK roads with limited or no human supervision, well before 2027.

This lecture explores what needs to be done to make the development and use of driverless cars possible, safe and of overall benefit to society. The lecture covers

  • Levels of Automation
  • Plans and Timescales
  • The Social Benefits that driverless Cars might bring
  • The Social Problems that Driverless Cars might bring
  • How Safe is Safe Enough?
  • How Safe are Human Drivers on UK Roads?
  • Technology related issues to be overcome
  • Transition to Driverless Cars: should human drivers be banned?
  • Conclusions

Martyn Thomas

Martyn is Professor of Information Technology at Gresham College in London and a visiting professor at the University of Aberystwyth. He has almost 50 years experience in the computer industry and working with university research groups. He is a Board Member of the Health and Safety Executive and a former director of the Serious Organised Crime Agency.