What does Richard Parry-Jones, ex-Ford product development boss and current Automotive Council chairman, think about autonomous cars?
Given that he was instrumental in transforming Fords into a decent steer, you might think that he’d be unenthusiastic about a car that drives itself. But no. “You just push a button,” he says, “and you do the driving.”
What excites him is not so much the fact that you can do your emails while sitting in a traffic jam, or even cars that can run in tight-packed, high-speed streams along designated motorway lanes to instantly increase road capacity. Instead, it’s the duties the car can perform while there’s no-one in it.
Your car can go to Ocado, he suggests, and pick up your groceries in the middle of the night. It can collect the kids from school or take your pet to the vet.
It can park itself, self-drive from its bay to pick you up again and when the time comes, take itself to the garage for servicing. The possibilities, Parry-Jones suggests, go well beyond slogging through your emails in the jam now sludging between junctions nine and 10.
And there’s no question that the car as a home help sounds attractive. Parry-Jones, who I saw this week at the annual Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders dinner, seems unworried by the legislative potential for taking our driving responsibilities – and pleasures – away from us.
I hope he’s right. My worry, though, is that once it’s realised that autonomous cars can provide zero-accident traffic management, it’ll become increasingly difficult to argue that your fallible human-being should be left in charge of a 1.5 tonne, 100mph projectile.
But the home help I could certainly use.