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Self-Driving cars: the next revolution in transportation

Updated on February 23, 2016

Aren't self-driving cars just science fiction?

Sometimes technology advances at a hard-to-believe speed. We don't yet have flying cars anywhere in sight, but we are very close to have true self-driving cars readily available and relatively cheap. Almost ever since cars were invented, humanity dreamed of a way to make them autonomous. For several decades, the military along with academic research institutes and auto makers research labs have been quietly studying cruise control systems, automated navigation, and computer vision. Our machines can already navigate cities and find routes better than human drivers, thanks to fast mobile internet, and accurate GPS navigation systems.

Driving a car safely, however, requires much more than knowing where the car is, and findind ideal routes and controlling the car's cruise. The car must be constantly aware of its surroundings, react properly and fastly in case of emergencies, obey to traffic lights, and other special traffic conditions that appear. The car must also know how to maneuver with very high precision, so it can park in our garages and in cramped streets. Auto makers figured out the engineering required for maneuvering: you can already buy cars that can park on their own, and also start their engines alone and drive slowly towards their owner. For driving at high-speeds safely, with all the unexpected things that can happen, requires a huge deal of artificial intelligence, and in 2010's, our most advanced tech companies entered the game.

Mercedes driverless car concept
Mercedes driverless car concept | Source

The biggest changes

These are the things that will naturally become the norm once self-driving cars hit the mass market:

  • It will probably be illegal to drive your own car. Computers will guide cars error free, following all safety guidelines and having a quicker response time to unforeseen events. Human driving is likely to become restricted to sports race-driving in designated places.
  • Commute time will rise even more. With self driving cars, people will be able to sleep, watch a movie, work, or talk to loved others, all in the comfort and privacy of their cars. This means it will be OK to wait two hours to get to work instead of one, so people will have more reasons to go after cheaper houses even further away from their workplace.
  • Cities will get more traffic. If you can use the time you stay in traffic jams to do anything you like, while the car drives itself though the traffic, people will matter less about being in traffic, so it's likely that jams will get even longer.
  • Private drivers and cabs will be extinct. They will be replaced by self driving cars you can call on your phone. Uber will probably buy a fleet of these cars and spread then throughout the globe, so you'll be able to get a car to drive you to any destination, for much cheaper.
  • Lower prices for wheel based transportation. Since there will be no truck driver to pay, prices for sending stuff on the road will drop dramatically. This will be great for developing countries, that still have no rail-based transportation networks.

It won't be long until fully self driving cars hit the mass

Tela Model S’ Autopilot feature.
Tela Model S’ Autopilot feature. | Source

Self Driving Technologies that exist today

Did you know consumer vehicles can already park by themselves, start their engines and maneuver to reach their owners? And more, they can detect speed limit signs and cruise control to that speed, break on stop signs and red lights, detect incoming objects and cars on all sides, switch lanes to swerve from slow cars or obstacles and much more!

Your life with self driving cars

Accidents caused by people driving under the influence is one of the major causes of death in many countries, specially developing ones. Texting and driving causes countless accidents. All of that will be irrelevant once driverless cars are the norm.

But what do cab drivers and bus conductors think of this technology? Do you think the technology that will make driving jobs obsolete will do more good than bad to human kind? How? Let us know what you think in the comments!

When do you think they'll be here?

By what time do you think your car will drive you to work while you take a nap?

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