In terms of futuristic transport we are not quite at flying cars or teleportation yet; however the future looks bright for autonomous vehicles.

If you believe the hype, there are countless possibilities for an autonomous transportation system. In its recent report “Driverless vehicles, a new engine for economic transformation”, Barclays set out several examples, of how connected and automated vehicles (“CAV”) could assist us in the future:

  1. Improving public transport in remote rural areas. Transport for Greater Manchester has previously said that CAV could “provide more efficient door-to-door solutions for public transport users and enable mass transit options to access more remote or dispersed communities and out-of-town employment areas, where it is currently unsustainable to provide a traditional public transport scheduled service”.


  1. Lorry platooning. Platooning is where one lorry leads and makes the decisions for those behind, which are wirelessly connected to form a road-train. The European Commission funded Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTRE) project has already trialled platooning on three motorway routes in northern Europe.


  1. Reduced congestion. CAV for the roads sector are expected to improve traffic conditions and reduce congestion. CAV can potentially smooth the way in which vehicles are driven as a result he said that this would allow vehicles potentially to drive closer together, therefore allowing capacity in the current highway network to be increased.


Although interesting, the above scenarios are only concepts at present. These will only become a reality, should the technology be developed to its full potential. The general public needs to be swayed into giving up control of driving their own vehicles, and essentially put their faith in a robot. There are also potential negative impacts to contend with, such as job losses in the transportation sector, especially if lorry platooning takes off.

Whatever happens in the future, it is clear that big corporations in the banking, automotive and insurance world are strategising on how to run their businesses in an automated world. The extent that it will touch our world in the next several years still remains to be seen however.

Kate is a solicitor at Stephens Scown who champions electric vehicles and alternative fuels. To contact Kate or the energy team, please call 01392 210700 or email