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The autonomous future is nearly here – with Wejo

A special podcast from Spotlight, the New Statesman’s policy supplement.

Widespread use of autonomous cars is on the horizon. Self-driving cars are already out on our roads. And autonomy will change our relationship with our vehicles. But what will the new immersive world inside a vehicle be like?

In the third episode of a three-part special series in partnership with Wejo, the smart mobility tech company, a panel of expert guests discusses how legislation and policy are enabling autonomous vehicles – and how AVs will change our lives. Will our children do their homework in the car on their way to school? Will we watch films on long journeys on the motorway?

Alona Ferber, editor of the New Statesman’s Spotlight policy channel, is joined by Richard Barlow, founder and chief executive of Wejo; Larry Burns, the former corporate vice-president of research and development for General Motors who championed self-driving and electric vehicles – and now sits on Wejo’s board; Alex Kendall, CEO of the AV2.0 start-up Wayve; and Amanda Stretton, the former racing driver, broadcaster and automotive expert.

“It’s pretty much like sitting in a regular vehicle, whether your spouse or a taxi cab driver is driving it,” Burns says in the episode, when asked what it’s like to travel in a self-driving car. “I think that’s what’s so remarkable. Once you get by the novelty of the fact that there’s no one sitting in the driver’s seat, you realise that the car is doing pretty much everything that a human has to do to drive.”

Burns goes on to describe how autonomous vehicles will change people’s lives. “The really exciting thing is it’s not just about not having to drive or spend your time driving any more,” he says. “I think it’s the transformation and how we’re going to be living our lives both socially and economically, having a vehicle that you can dispatch yourself and it serves as your personal valet to run errands for you, I think is going to be a game changer for many of us.

“Not having to spend your time driving and being able to reconfigure the interior of a vehicle would allow the vehicle to become a play area. It could become a place to sleep, it could become a sanctuary… I think the sky’s the limit quite honestly.”

The first episode in this series looked at connected vehicle data and the second at how far we have come on electric vehicles.

Read more:

Are we there yet with electric cars? The EV story – with Wejo

The need to grow London’s EV infrastructure at speed and scale

Ex-Nissan executive Andy Palmer: “The UK will have no car industry without battery manufacturing”