In the UK it might well become legal quite soon to watch TV and other content while in a self-driving AI car. This is one of the changes being considered in draft legislation for such vehicles by the UK government.
The Department for Transport (via The Register (opens in new tab)) has confirmed planned changes to The Highway Code, which includes rules and guidelines for using roads in the UK. These changes are aiming to allow users of self-driving cars to experience the full benefits of the technology, while still clearly stating what the responsibilities of people in these cars actually are. It's set to give clarity as these kinds of autonomous details potentially become more common on roads.
One of these clarifications is regarding what people can actually do while riding in a self-driving vehicle, and while screens are in, mobile phones, and likely video games are out. Even though some of these cars are powered by high-end gaming rig like PCs. (opens in new tab)
"The plans also include a change to current regulation, allowing drivers to view content that is not related to driving on built-in display screens, while the self-driving vehicle is in control. It will, however, still be illegal to use mobile phones in self-driving mode, given the greater risk they pose in distracting drivers as shown in research." explains a section on the Department of Transport's site.
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Given the current state of autonomous vehicles, even watching the telly feels like a pretty dangerous thing to do while behind the wheel. However, it seems like the UK is drawing the line at interactive media, by not allowing things like phones, which can definitely be more encompassing at times. It's certainly more effort to disengage in a game, put the device down, shift back to car thinking, and apply emergency brakes than it would be to look away from a TV show or something similar. As long as something super juicy isn't happening, of course.
Still it's good these are things the Department of Transport is considering. The vehicles will likely be introduced into the roadworthy population gradually, and only be allowed to travel at lower speeds and other safety restrictions for a while. Having clear rules implemented before autonomous cars are all over the road is a smart idea, even if they may need to be altered down the line. The next step is making sure the population is educated on these rules as self-driving cars potentially become more common.
There are also plenty of other benefits to autonomous vehicles besides being able to catch up on your stories on the commute to work. Transport Minister Trudy Harrison believes the introduction of these technologies will lead to safer and more environmentally sustainable activities on the roads.