California, Nevada and Florida have already pledged their allegiance to the technology of the self-driving car with a little help from the folks at Google, but they’re not stopping there. After a pretty successful conference in Austin, Texas is well on it’s way to becoming the fourth state to embrace the new driving technology. But how exactly do autonomous cars work?
The Google self-driving car combines infrared lasers, radars and GPS systems to keep the car on the road. Infrared lasers spin constantly on top of the car identifying obstacles, whilst radar sensors are used to identify dangerous objects around the car. With a reaction time that is 1.7 seconds quicker than the human eye, Google are hailing their technology as safer than the human brain. The inbuilt GPS system is accurate to within a few centimetres, not only keeping the car on the road, but in the right direction.
The most interesting thing about these vehicles is the possibilities they bring. Apart from the obvious plus of making you feel like James Bond in Tomorrow Never Dies, as the technology progresses, auto insurance is poised to drop. and possibly even rise for those without autonomous vehicles.
The autonomous technology looks set to change driving forever. No more taping your eyelids back on long stretches of boring highway, the car will drive for you. No more having to urgently find a place to pull over to answer important phone calls, the car will drive for you. Texting, reading, eating, playing games consoles, your time at the wheel will be free time.
Currently in the US states that have legalized the technology, a driver must be at the wheel at all times in order to take over in emergency situations. But as the technology progresses, your car could be your personal chauffer, taking you to and from work, even picking you up from the bar when you’ve had one too many. No more expensive car parks, and less time feeling like you’ve wasted your week sitting in traffic.
With Google claiming that the technology will be available within five years, van leasing experts like the Tilsun Group expect to see an increasing interest in this technology from the fleet industry. Night drivers would most certainly see benefit from this technology, as could their insurance premiums. The technology is an option the delivery industry has made clear they wish to trial.
Google is not the only company pursuring the self-driving dream though. BMW promises to have their model ready by 2020. And Audi is developing autonomous technologies for their current models, such as piloted parking and traffic jam assistance, that will gradually work them towards a completely autonomous vehicle.
It’s pretty exciting stuff, don’t you think? Once the technology rolls out, wow you will spend your free time at the wheel?
Ashleigh-Rose Harman writes on behalf of a number of automotive clients, with her main focus on new car technologies and the future of the automotive industry.
Photo Credit: Google