Make way for driverless cars!
Elon Musk, founder of Tesla has claimed they’re only two years away from launching completely autonomous vehicles. Alongside this other car manufacturers such as Nissan and Volvo are also preparing themselves.
Tesla’s Autopilot software already provides vehicles with:
- Sensors to measure possible collision risks
- Camera to detect pedestrians and road features
Tesla introduced an update to the software in some of its vehicles, meaning the cars can now park themselves and be called by their owner (providing you’re within a three mile range).
Elon Musk had previously claimed that human-operated vehicles would eventually be outlawed, once technology had progressed to the point where autonomous cars were safer.
Annual Global Road Crash Statistics state that nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year, which on average is 3,287 deaths a day. More than 90% of road accidents involve human error.
What driverless cars will mean:
- Improving safety (resulting in less collisions and lives lost)
- Reducing emissions and congestion
- Increasing access to vehicles for everyone
Uber is the latest company to explore driverless car technology confirming it is testing a self- navigating vehicle.
The average driver in England spends 235 hours driving every year, equivalent to six working weeks!
There are many people who do not own a driving licence, or have access to a vehicle for a variety of different reasons. Automated vehicle technologies will soon evolve to the point whereby vehicles can embark on journeys themselves leading to the improvement of mobility for people, enhancing their quality of life.
Driverless vehicles will offer the assurance of reduced congestion, use of better road space and provide more consistent journey times.
“Connected vehicles” would correspond with each other and their surroundings to identify the prime route, helping to spread demand for scarce road space. Vehicles could also communicate with roadside infrastructure (e.g. traffic lights) and use this information to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
In the battle for driverless car technology, Chinese companies are taking big steps competing with Google and Tesla.
Who are the competitors?
- BMW and Baidu (Chinese search engine Baidu has partnered with BMW)
- Geely and Volvo (Geely bought Volvo in 2010)
Volvo plans to test 100 driverless cars on public roads in daily conditions and is also testing driverless cars in the UK and Sweden.
So how long will it be before it’s normal to have a driverless car pick you up?
Some say we are probably one decade away.
We already have many driver support technologies helping you to park, stay in lane, maintain speed and detect when to brake.
Over time, we can expect to see a lot more of these features in cars which will eventually lead to them being completely automated. The tests and trials which are being conducted are very extensive and the experimentation and learning process is crucial to develop in the field. Numerous manufacturers are working on pioneering vehicles so it will be fascinating to see what they come up with.