How fast should driverless cars be allowed to drive? Driverless cars are programmed to travel at the designated speed limits on our roads. This makes complete logical sense; however, the reality is that this is a lot slower than most vehicles travel on many of our roads. And, in fact, a Delphi spokesperson at the Automated Vehicle Symposium mentioned that during Delphi’s autonomous vehicle cross-country test drive, they found that many other drivers were quite frustrated with how slow the driverless car was going (visual: picture significant honking and unpleasant hand gestures)!
Obviously, cars are currently designed to travel at speeds much higher than existing speed limits. In an entirely autonomous (and possibly connected) world, it’s possible that government agencies will be able to increase speed limits significantly since the cars will, seemingly, be able to make smart, safe decisions about where they drive and how quickly. Assuming minimal traffic, we could arrive at our destinations significantly faster than our current trip times.
On the other hand, government agencies probably won’t be able to change speed limits in our current, mixed vehicles environment. With both manual and automated cars on our roads, the safe bet is to keep the speed limits as-is. In fact, a Department for Transport spokesman said: “There are no plans to change speed limits, which will still apply to driverless cars”. (source)
Be prepared: automation may get us places slower before we can get places faster!