Are we really ready for self-driving cars?
Amanda Blanc, Axa’s UK boss, lays too much of the responsibility for providing electric car charging infrastructure at National Grid’s door (Report, 1 January). Electricity privatisation removed National Grid’s obligation to plan provision of adequate generation capacity as the market was seen as a more efficient provider. National Grid is responsible for carrying energy from the generation companies to regional bulk supply points, where most of it is passed on to regional distribution companies’ infrastructure which feeds our homes and businesses.
While the Grid will require reinforcement, additional supply points and consequent investment, the impact on the distribution networks is likely to be disproportionate; banks of superchargers will require cabling to industrial amounts of energy while slower and home chargers will add cumulative demands that may require reinforcement work at street level. Grid and distribution charges are moderated by Ofgem but on the basis that necessary capital investment costs are passed on to the customer, so there will be an impact on energy costs.
The solution to Ms Blanc’s charging delays might be found in larger, shared tracked electric vehicles, using a continuous overhead power supply, which are available in much of Europe and sometimes at reasonable cost.
• Another Trojan horse is revealed by Amanda Blanc’s belief that “children born today will not need to learn to drive”. As with the consequences of Facebook, Google, Amazon et al, yet another human skill is set to vanish. Driving a car is one of those complex learned activities we need for our mental and physical wellbeing. AI and the digital world has the capacity to neuter us. We do not need to have all aspects our lives made easier. Human skills are hard won and easily lost. Beware.
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