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“Roads? Where were going, we don’t need roads”, Back to the Future’s Dr. Emmett Brown wasn’t quite right…just yet anyway. We will in fact still need roads for the foreseeable future, but drivers are looking like becoming a thing of the past.

West Midlands residents are being asked for their views on the innovative new technology which will bring driverless cars to streets across the country.

A special event will be held at Birmingham City University and Eastside Projects’ STEAMhouse facility in Digbeth, to give members of the public the opportunity to ask questions and air their views on the development of the autonomous vehicles which could transform how we travel.

The event, which takes place on Wednesday 5th September from 6pm – 8pm, forms part of the driverless carTalkshop series, which invites the public to learn more about major policy decisions and quiz experts face-to-face.

Birmingham City University has already been taking part in a multi-million-pound research project to test driverless cars which aim to improve travel for blind or visually impaired people.

The £2.3 million INSIGHT project has seen a consortium of business and academic partners working to adapt driverless pods and make it easier for those with sight difficulties to travel independently.

Perry Walker, one of the founders of Talk Shop, will be hosting the event and leading discussions.

Perry said: “”Driverless cars are near enough that we can understand the issues, but far enough away that citizens can hope to influence how they happen.

The event is part of Nesta’s Everyone Makes Innovation Policy programme which aims to improve public engagement with policy decisions being taken at the local and national level.

Attendees at the event will be given a discussion kit to drive debate and provide information on the complex issues surrounding the creation of autonomous vehicles.

It will focus on key questions including:

  • Are self-driving cars a good thing?
  • Will they help people who find it hard to drive?
  • How soon will they be here?
  • Will they reduce congestion and pollution?
  • Will I need to own a car at all?

The discussion will take place in STEAMhouse Phase One, which was formally opened on Digbeth High Street in May.

Based in the former car showroom on Digbeth High Street, Phase One of STEAMhouse features a range of new state-of-the-art facilities which people can access for free, ranging from 3D printers and laser cutting machinery to virtual reality technology and printing workshop.

It provides a collaborative innovation space for artists, academics and businesses to work together.

Earlier this year STEAMhouse announced plans for its second phase, which will see a historic Birmingham factory restored to its former glory to provide new space and facilities for collaborative work.

You can register for your free ticket at the event by visiting Eventbrite and searching for ‘Talk Shop Driverless Cars’ or click ‘book now’ below.

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