Driverless: Who is in control?

Direct Line Group is a major sponsor of the Driverless: Who is in control? exhibition at the Science Museum which will be opening on 12 June 2019.

The exhibition will be exploring the role that autonomous vehicles will play in our lives and the impact that these thinking machines will have on our daily lives. There has already been much coverage on autonomous cars  as their introduction could  increase road safety through minimising the potential for human error.

Alongside autonomous land vehicles, the exhibition will also feature driverless air and water  vehicles. It will allow visitors to explore three distinctive zones -  Land, Air and Water. Each section will explore the technology that already exists the new technology that is currently being developed within these environments, and the stories of the developers behind the technology.

In Land, visitors can explore examples of real self-driving vehicles. These will include the classic 1960 Citroen DS19 car that was modified in the UK to “self-drive” in early experiments in driverless technology. More modern examples include the Robocar (2017), a driverless electric racing car and Dominic Wilcox’s ‘Stained Glass Driverless Sleeper Car of the Future’, a thoughtful art piece that will raise questions amongst visitors of the level of safety that autonomous vehicles will introduce.

Also on display will be Duckiebots (2018) that ferry rubber duck passengers through model cities, as well as  farming and delivery robots. Through interactive displays the exhibition will encourage audiences to ‘see’ the world through the eyes of a driverless car and consider the kind of choices they feel comfortable with machines making.

In Airvisitors can explore the stories behind autonomous  drones being developed to deliver goods and services from defibrillators for emergency medical responses in remote areas to hot dinners.It will also look at anti drone technologies, crucial at a time when the  disruptive potential of the technology is being debated, and will encourage visitors to explore questions around privacy and convenience.

In the final section, Water, a scale model of one of the most recognisable marine vessels in the world – the Autosub Long Range Boaty McBoatface (2018) will be on display. This autonomous underwater vehicle can explore hundreds of meters beneath the Antarctic ice independently for weeks on end. Funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, the fleet is used by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) to study the effects of climate change. Water will also feature exciting vessels designed to monitor ocean plankton and map the sea floor, allowing us to gain a better understanding of the natural world, in environments we have not been able to explore before.

Dan Freedman, Director of Motor Development at Direct Line Group, said, ‘We’ve been working very hard at Direct Line Group to understand how autonomous vehicles can influence the future of driving and what this means for our customers and insurance. There are so many questions relating to autonomous vehicles including how they will work and interact with drivers, pedestrians and other cars on the roads. We are delighted to be working with the Science Museum who will bring this issue to life in the exhibition by showcasing how artificial intelligence is being used, how it may be used in the future and will address some of the big issues around driverless vehicles.’

Ling Lee, Lead Curator of the exhibition, said,Driverless transports the visitor into a world where artificial intelligence has embodied agency, with all the benefits or consequences that brings. This exhibition will explore what could happen when we let algorithms make decisions for us, not just from behind the screens of our mobile phones or self-checkout counters, but in our physical reality. More importantly, we’ll be revealing the human stories behind the hype - how programmers, policymakers and the public have a hand in shaping our interactions with these thinking machines.’

Driverless: Who is in control? is free and open daily from 12 June 2019 until October 2020, the exhibition will also be the theme for a special event at the museum on 28th of August, part of the Science Museum’s Lates programme.