Is nothing sacred? It would appear not, as now even the small, self-governing Isle of Man, forever independent of the changing empires of Europe around it, and home to one of the oldest and most dangerous races on the planet, is inviting autonomous vehicle development to its roads.
That’s right; the home of the famous Isle of Man TT motorcycle race which has gone on every year since 1907, and home of the longest-standing parliament (of over 1,000 years) in the world is inviting companies like Google to test and develop autonomous car technologies on its ancient roads. Welcome to the 21st Century, where nothing is sacred.
Phil Gawne, the transportation minister of the island sandwiched between Ireland and Britain, spoke to The Washington Post announcing that the government has been in talks with multiple companies to bring autonomous car technologies to the roads.
Gawne cites certain advantages an island like the Isle of Man has to offer for testing new automotive technologies, including its government’s ability to adjust and pass new laws at a quick pace, as well as the unique geographical features the island provides. The island is a great large-scale testing region without companies having to deal with the bureaucracies of a large city or state, while still offering a similar range along with a variety of unique challenges.
The island also looks to receive the sort of innovative infrastructure upgrade that would be implemented by prospective companies, bringing a spirit of innovation to the community while also getting a boost in maintaining and upgrading the ancient network of roads.
The government is keen to get a project started, and looks to pass legislation by early summer in hopes it will be able to strike a deal and project an image of innovation over the Island.
Meanwhile, Phil Gawne is also busy trying to salvage and maintain the Isle of Man’s horse-drawn carriages, which have been a key part of the island’s tourism industry since the 19th century. One must be flexible in facing polar issues as transportation minister of the Isle of Man, it seems.
There was no word on the future of the Isle of Man TT race, but I’m betting if it has been going on annually since 1907, it’s a safe bet it will stick around. No government bureaucrat on a island all about history wants to be that guy.