The Idler’s Dream: Autonomous Cars
Ever since we humans discovered the gift of invention, we’ve been looking for ways to avoid having to work. “Why do something when you can create something that will do it for you?” shouts our mind, and every day brings us closer to abolishing that most minor of tasks, manual driving. Whilst we here at Carhoots.com are enamoured with driving, we can see the appeal in sitting back and letting the car do all the legwork. Providing all the lazy luxury of a taxi ride without the awkward chat about that night’s passengers, or indeed the hefty fare, self-driving cars seem to be one direction the automotive industry is very interested in steering us towards. So stay with us as we take a look at the ins and outs of this retooling of our most beloved form of transport.
We all remember the somewhat unlikely scenes in Minority Report, from the soundless helicopter-esque creations to the 3D projector, but what sticks out in my mind are the criss-crossing cars, slashing over ‘roads’ willy-nilly without a hint of danger. This kind of driverless technology, where we just type in (or rather, speak) a destination and sit back may be a while away, but it is coming to fruition thanks to the tireless effort of those at the forefront of the industry. It is all driven by cars communicating with each other, ceaselessly telling the others its distance and speed, so that no collisions occur. See our article here on future car technologies. One of the more interesting technologies being pioneered is computer vision, wherein the car understands the visual cues surrounding it and translates them into movements. If, for example, a driverless car saw a pedestrian trying to cross a road, it would accordingly swerve and in doing so would alert its neighbours of its plans. Such cars are also set to alter the future design of roads, with the ubiquitous wide, tarmac affair seeming unnecessarily large with the minute movements and finesse possible with an autonomous car.
How long before all cars are self-driving, like in the film Minority Report?
There are negatives, however, mostly the removal of the freedom that cars can give a driver. Being on the open road (or rather more aptly, on a congested city street) with your hands on the wheel is a giddy thrill and to be denied that won’t go down well with many gearheads. There’s also the issue of price, with autonomous vehicles costing an average of $3000 more than regular cars on their eventual release.
Our collective disappointment with the lack of hoverboards as promised to us can only be sated by ever-evolving automotive technology. Google’s self-driving cars recently tallied up an impressive 300,000 miles on their own, paving the way for handsfree driving in the near-future. The technologies are still in their infancy, meaning the cars can’t handle snow-covered roads or temporary road signs, but that hasn’t stopped them faultlessly roving without a single accident. The benefits are numerous, and take on special import with regards to safety. In a world with only driverless cars, the theory is that car accidents will be a thing of the past. Online surveys suggest only 49% of respondents would be comfortable with the idea of being made redundant as drivers, but with the technology in robust development, it seems an inevitable direction for the automotive industry.