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Jaguar Land Rover is testing its first self-driving cars

Home, er… Alexa, and don’t spare the horses

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That’s right: Jag’s stepped up and answered the question “Who’s gonna drive you home?”, first asked all those years ago by The Cars. And the answer? Well, it’s the car itself. No, not The Cars, the cars… oh, this is getting confusing.

Anywhos, Jag says they’re undertaking the “UK’s first in-city road trials for self-driving and connected vehicles”, which, as you’d expect, will bring us “another step closer to making self-driving cars a reality”. 

More than just reading the road and reacting as a single entity, the cars have also tested communication with other vehicles and “roadside infrastructure” – that’s traffic lights to the rest of us. 

As we understand it, the ultimate goal of the £20m project – and indeed all autonomous projects – is for a city environment which reflects that scene in I, Robot. No, not the part where the Fresh Prince shows off his vintage Converse; the bit where cars communicate with each other and act preemptively to unfolding situations, rather than reactively, using crowdsourced data from moving and stationary objects. If we recall correctly, that scene ended with an exploding truck. Best not to dwell on that.

We’re in a bit of a strange period at the moment, where the technology is achingly close to readiness, yet public perception and government legislation aren’t. We lost our crystal ball at the last TG office party (along with half a Nissan Micra and all of Ricky, the intern) but we get the feeling that cars, as we know them, are about to undergo the biggest seismic shift since we stopped putting horses out the front. 

So, does this mean a future where you can read your favourite website from the driver’s seat without unleashing some fairly Darwinian outcomes? Or one where Rush’s ‘Red Barchetta’ becomes an oddly prescient look into the future of driving legislation? The answer to that question is a resounding “er… no idea.”

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