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How Driverless Cars Will Change Our Lives One Day

Updated on December 29, 2013

Driverless Cars

Driverless cars, also known as autonomous cars, are getting closer to our roads every single day. When they are mass produced they will make a dramatic and hopefully positive addition to our lives. I will discuss in this lens what they will bring to our lives and also first show some of the leading car manufacturers in driverless cars.

A driverless car will use a range of technology to drive on our roads, how this is done will depend on the company developing driverless cars. The current leading companies include Google, Ford, Tesla and Volvo.

The current technology used in the prototypes consists of radar, GPS, computer vision and lidar.

So what does the future of driverless cars look like? Well it won't probably be completely driverless, some human interaction may be needed in some cases. We will see some driverless cars on the roads within five years probably.

Google Driverless Cars - Google are currently leading the way

Google driverless cars are close, it is unsure when they could be commercialised but it is within 10 years. The cars are expensive as expected, with the autonomous systems costing as much as $150,000. However like all technology, it will eventually get cheaper and I expect the driverless cars to be affordable within five years of it being commercially available.

Google cars drive at a safe distance from other cars, by using its on board sensors. It will drive more efficiently, only braking when needing to, and drives at the speed limit that are stored on the system's map. The car still has an override system, in case you need to take over driving.

In August 2012 Google announced that their driverless cars had done 300,000 autonomous-driving miles without a single accident. This is very impressive, and shows just how important these cars will be in the future for safety.

The video below shows Steve Mahan testing out the Google driverless car, 95% of his vision has gone, and with a driverless car he would be able to go much further, and not be limited to local services like his local bus.

Google Driverless Cars In Action

Volvo - Some exciting technologies are being developed

Volvo have recently showed some technology that steers the car back onto the road if it starts to wonder off the road too far. This is done by cameras and sensors that watch the side of the road and when the car gets too close, the car gently steers you back on course.

Volvo is also looking into autonomous parking, this is no way near close but essentially you can get out of the car, click park on your phone and it will drive to a free parking spot for you without you even in the car.

One final technology they are looking at is car-2-car comms, which is basically where cars communicate to each other. So for example a police car is further down the motorway, and you cannot see it yet but the car will have already been notified, and will have warned you, so that you can safely and easily find a good place to pull over so the police car can drive without stopping.

Volvo View Of Future Driverless Cars

Ford - Not far behind Google

Ford doesn't want to make a system that is fully driverless, just like Volvo they want some human interaction. They have developed their own LIDAR system which shows how the car can see everyone around it. Ford aren't as optimistic as Volvo and Google, saying driverless cars won't be what we expect it to be and not as good as we think it will be. This view is true for the first few years of using some sort of driverless cars but one day it will be fully driverless.

Fords Self Driving Cars

So How Will It Change Our Lives?

Over one million people die from car related accidents every year, and this figure won't improve unless driverless cars are introduced and Google has proven they are safe with over 300,000 miles done without a single accident. 90% of accidents are due to human error, take humans out of the driving and we dramatically reduce the number of accidents a year. People with disabilities that had to use local services will now be able to go much further and be much more free with where they go.

Existing highways and roads would not have to be ugraded as much, because driverless cars, can drive just at the right speed to get you to a place quickly. This is because there will be no traffic jams as driverless cars would be able to talk to each other. Although electric cars will be much more common, driving more efficiently will greatly reduce the impact on climate change, because less fuel is wasted.

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