The exciting world of automotive technology is fast-paced. Car makers and technology companies have always worked together. These days, they work together to build cars packed with tomorrow’s technology.
When it comes to driverless cars, it would seem that tomorrow’s technology is already with us today!
In California, Google has been testing autonomous car technology on the streets of San Francisco for years.
In the United Kingdom, the British government has given the go-ahead for driverless car trials to start in 2015. And in mainland Europe, you’ll find driverless Volvos in the streets of Gothenburg, Sweden.
The future of driving
It seems likely that we will all be travelling in self-driving cars within the next twenty to thirty years. The technology is already available to make it happen. Car makers just need to find a way of making such vehicles affordable and safe.
At the moment, cars driven on public roads can only get controlled by a human driver, not a computer. People are quite worried about getting into a car that drives itself, and, for some, the prospect can be a terrifying one!
And who can blame them? It’s quite a big “ask” to let your car do all the work. The thing is, autonomous technology is already used in today’s society. Here are a few examples:
- In the UK, the Docklands Light Railway is autonomous. The trains are all controlled from a remote control centre;
- Planes have “autopilot,” although crew members still make most of the flight decisions on board.
The main issue with public confidence in driverless cars is safety. That’s according to comments from Stuart at the Pentagon Group.
Car makers and technology firms are keen to stress the safety aspects of driverless cars. But we all know that even computers can make mistakes from time to time. Autonomous car technology is still in its infancy.
There have been a few incidents in the past where this supposed safe technology was anything but safe!
The general public wants assurances that driverless cars cannot fail at any time. Letting motorists take manual control of their cars in some situations would build confidence.
Not everyone lives off public roads. Some folks live in houses or farms where the only way to access them is to use unnamed private dirt roads.
Driverless cars will need to know how to use such roads. Otherwise, you and your car could get stranded on the main road, metres or even miles away from your home!
Details are sketchy at best about what would happen if a driverless car became faulty on the journey. Motorists need to know how to handle such problems. They also need to know how their autonomous cars would handle those problems too!
For instance, would they just shut down in the middle of the road, or would they “limp” home somehow?
The technology is there for autonomous cars. But the truth is, us motorists aren’t ready. And it looks like we won’t be ready for some time to come. There are many unanswered questions that need addressing by car makers before we go out and buy driverless cars!