A couple of lines on the London underground are already ‘driverless’ – the Victoria, Central and Jubilee lines are all automated right now. Now the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, wants all drivers to hop-out-of-it to turn the entire network into a well-oiled automated machine without all that fleshy human weakness.
The funny thing is that Boris isn’t doing it for any sort of money or operational savings; he’s doing it to break the driver union’s power over London’s transport, which it abuses regularly, even threatening to strike during the Olympics.
Right now even the automated lines technically have drivers, who essentially close the doors and hit the go button every time the tube is ready to leave the station. Boris wants to turf them out and put in ‘train captains’ like the DLR has. The Northern line is the next set to go driverless in 2014, with the Metropolitan, Circle and Hammersmith and City lines set for full automation come 2018.
I’m all for automated tube lines. These days you simply don’t need someone sitting up front to drive the train -- a computer can do it better. Maybe it’ll even make our commutes a little cheaper; I’m probably grasping at rising straws on that one. [Evening Standard via TechRadar]
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