The future of driverless cars and what we know so far
In just a few years time driverless cars will be normal and the numbers on the road will slowly overtake the numbers of cars with drivers.
All over the world, car manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Tesla and Nissan have got fully functioning self-driving cars on the road, with companies such as Google, Apple and others investing heavily to produce their own versions.
Of course this raises the obvious questions such as insurance, accidents and legal changes needed before they can be launched in the UK.
As we stand, even fully autonomous cars will have a steering wheel and pedals as normal. Once systems are proven these will disappear, a set up that is ideal for taxis.
With UK government stating their intention to be a world leader and implementing tax breaks and grants to the industry, we will begin to see changes really soon. With trials are already taking place in some cities on a small scale, 2019 should bring about something more interesting.
Whether you realise it or not, most cars already have some element of autonomy.
Even everyday cars have technology on board that was unavailable or even unimaginable ten years ago. Cars are now fitted with cameras and radars that can avoid an accident. Anyone with this technology will have experienced it in a car park when backing out or into a space and the car brakes as a pedestrian that its sees before you walks past.
The Past & Present Generations of Vehicle Autonomy
2016 – Assisted driving arrives
In addition to the cameras and radar on-board a new car, many now have lane departure tech which can keep a car in its lane if a driver is not paying full attention. Already, the new Volvo S90 has driving assistance that can drive fully under 30mph and higher speeds if the driver has hold of the steering wheel.
2018 – ‘Hands-off’ self-driving
The Tesla Autopilot virtually drives the car, but is of course not legal. It is a clear demonstration of what can be achieved. Along with man other new cars, the system will identify and then park in any type of parking spot. Multiple cameras on-board cars are being used to create a virtual 3D image for either the driver or the system to park the car.
2021 – Automated driving
2019 will be the year of change to full autonomy. Road technology and sensors on the car, along with ever improving GPS will build a picture to let the car drive itself. As other cars have similar systems on-board, location data should actually reduce the risk of accidents. 2021 should see the first fully autonomous cars on the road in the UK.