“In fact rather than a new innovation that simply appears we believe our existing in-car facilities will continue to be developed to the point where we are using the full range of technology without a second thought and cars effectively become driverless.
“When that happens it will have huge implications in law. It will be an enormous benefit to some people and will change so many aspects of life.”
Philip said existing driverless technology included self-parking systems, cruise control, lane departure warning and intelligent braking programmes. These are already taking cars out of our hands and replacing our input with technological controls.
He said: “This is steering us into whole new territories which remain to be decided in law. We will be looking at a lot more regulation as the prospect of fully-developed driverless car technology seems to have slipped through the cracks.
“Pivotal advances in technology such as this have required constant refinement and improvements before they became safe and accepted. They also make actions possible that were not before, and that has legal implications.
“While Driverless Cars will bring long term benefits in terms of safety, reduced emissions and even social mobility – we need to have road-tested procedures in place to deal with potential accidents and personal injury claims – whether from ‘drivers’, manufacturers, suppliers, or installers – not forgetting other road users and pedestrians.
“We need to identify who will be held to responsible in the event of an accident involving a driverless car – with recognised legal protocols being put in place capable of being tested in the courts at all levels.
Clarke Willmott believe driverless car technologies will follow a similar development trajectory to that of mobile phones two decades ago.
Said Philip Edwards: “We have developed from hand-held devices the size of a house brick to mini computer communications systems the size of a credit card in less than 20 years. Telephones have changed the face of privacy and many other aspects of the law.
“We expect similar technological developments that will deliver a fully-automatic driverless car in half that time and we have to be ready for that new market.”