Driverless cars are speeding from the future and on to our roads at an increasing pace. Even though we’ve been aware of the potential of computer-controlled self-driving vehicles for some time, the last few months have seen a torque of announcements, advancements and predictions, all which point to the fact that this high-tech machines will be the norm on our roads within the next 10 years.
In fact, although not fully functional, little known manufacturer Tesla already has cars on the road which will soon be able to auto-pilot on freeways. Last month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that their vehicles will be sent a software update that will give their vehicles the “technical” ability to get from a-b. Owners of a Tesla vehicle will also be able to summon their vehicle from a garage or other off street location.
San-Francisco opened up its roads for the testing of driverless cars in 2012 and Mercedes recently stirred interest with their F015 Luxury in motion concept car which roamed the city’s streets. The silver sleek design impresses, but it’s the interior which hints at what transportation might be like in the near future. The F015’s four seats can turn to face each other, with touch screens running across the inside door panels. Soon, it seems, cars are set to replace palm tops as our most used connectivity tools. Humans, soon, will seamlessly slot into their digital worlds. The aim of this car isn’t to showcase its autonomous driving capabilities but to point towards what to expect from the look and feel of a car by 2030. The technology has been tested and developed over the past 20 years, according to the company.
Most of the world’s main manufacturing companies are predicting fully autonomous driverless cars by the middle of the 2020s, with Audi ambitiously claiming that their new generation of A8s will be fully autonomous by 2017.
Silicon Valley is also already familiar with Google tech equipped Toyota Priuses with their laser saucer sensors on their roofs. As yet, with no reports of major incidents. In fact, one of the hopes of driverless cars is that they will reduce accidents, seen to be usually caused by human error.
The British Government has also recently taken up the baton of driverless cars and has given the green light to test driverless cars on their roads. 40 new driverless cars will start roaming the streets of Milton Keynes by the end of this year, and Greenwhich, London is also earmarked as a test site. Transport Minister Claire Perry claimed: “Driverless cars are the future. I want Britain to be at the forefront of this exciting new development, to embrace a technology that could transform our roads and open up a brand new route for global investment.”
Although there have been recent successes in testing in autonomous driving vehicles, there is still some way to go in terms of the cars being able to manoeuvre inner-city. Manufacturers and tech companies are tripping up over themselves to promote and showcase their own advancements. We are now seeing the car industry’s version of an “arms race.”
The University of Michigan has taken some steps to test the and fully develop driverless car’s ability to advance through complex urban environments by building a mock city in 23 acres. The city will be populated with driverless cars, people (including mums with push chairs) and other hazards. M-City is due to start running on July 20, with tech companies in a furore to get their tech tested.