Jeremy Clarkson has had a history of making strong remarks, starting from his audition for Top Gear UK to his career with BBC coming to an end to him joining Amazon's Grand Tour. And now, Mr Clarkson has made a very to-the-point statement about using autonomous or self-driving cars in the real world. Clarkson recently said that he could have been killed by a driverless car. Grand Tour presenter Clarkson said that he was testing a driverless car in the UK, when it made two mistakes within a stretch of 80 km and that he feared for his life. This statement comes just before Chancellor Philip Hammond is about to allow the new technology to be tested on UK roads. Hammond’s goal to see autonomous cars on British roads by 2021, boosting an industry which is predicted to be worth £28 billion by 2035 and provide 27,000 jobs.
“I drove a car the other day which has a claim of autonomous capability and twice in the space of 50 miles on the M4 it made a mistake, a huge mistake, which could have resulted in death,” he wrote in the Sunday Times magazine.
Jeremy refrained from mentioning which self-driving car he was testing, saying "We have to be very careful legally, so I’m not going to say which one.” About the development in the field of autonomous cars, Clarkson believes that "we are miles away from it".
Extremely creative as Jeremy Clarkson is with his words, he went on to challenge auto manufacturers. He wrote: "You drive one of your driverless cars over the Death Road in Bolivia and I’ll buy one. Sit there with your hands folded and let it drive you up there, then squeeze past a lorry with half the tyre hanging over a 1,000ft drop while the car drives itself. Fine, I’ll buy into it.”
A little humour Jeremy Clarkson style:
— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) November 21, 2017
I would say that there is gravity in what Jeremy Clarkson has to say about driverless cars. It is a sound advise to be careful and a brilliant way to gauge a self-driving car's capabilities – the Death Road. But then, I suppose car manufacturers don't have to go to the frightening roads of Bolivia to test their autonomous vehicles. If a self-driving car can go through traffic in Uttar Pradesh or drive to Kasauli all on its own, it will have pretty much aced in its game.
Earlier in June this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US ruled that it was partially the fault of the driver and the that of the car in a case which made headlines as Tesla's first fatal crash. Ohio resident Joshua Brown was killed in the highway crash in Florida. The NHTSA said that Brown had ignored several warnings from the car to take over and also that the car encouraged 'period of extended distraction'. So, there are two things to notice, our self-driving tech isn't refined enough for the real world and we as humans aren't prepared to rely on them yet.
However, as they say you have to start somewhere. Self-driving technology has come a long way over the years. From us watching James Bond's car drive itself in utter surprise and denial to auto giants preparing to launch driverless cars in this very life of ours – an interesting time to be alive. The process of learning and developing will have its fair share of bumps, but so far we really are “miles away from it”.