The Future is Now – Self-Driving Cars Closer than Ever

The Future is Now – Self-Driving Cars Closer than Ever

December 6, 2014 Car 0 Comments

“I knew the dog was possessive about the car but I would not have asked her to drive it if I had thought there was any risk.” GenuineCar Insurance Claim 

Letting your dog drive the car is not the best idea, but what if your car could drive itself? We can almost hear your finger nails digging into whatever you happen to be sitting on.

Really? Autonomous driving? When you think about the many things cars do now, from keeping us safe and comfortable to telling us when we are about to hit something, is it such a reach to think that eventually cars could drive themselves?

Take Volvo.  The Volvo V40 can, right now, park itself. Watch this short video and note the lack of human either in the car or gingerly waving the car into its space. The S60 has space-age technology that gives this clever car the slightly spooky ability to see in the dark, adjust speed and road position.

Before you start thinking about letting the car drive while you play with your dog or Google a new place to go for dinner, Volvo says that the technology will only work while you have two hands on the steering wheel. However the adaptive cruise control on the Volvo S60 and S80 will do a number of things without your help,

“By setting the speed to an optimistic 60mph, the S80 majestically and gracefully followed the flow of the traffic. Bringing the car to halt when required and pulling away when the queue moved on. Brilliant. It made the M25 seem almost bearable.”

The future, where cars will drive themselves

Looking ahead, we can anticipate cars with fully autonomous navigation and parking features, able to communicate with each other. 

As with any breakthrough, there are questions to answer, specifically around safety and privacy.  Will cars ever be smart enough to make snap decisions in a crisis? What happens if cars can store data about everywhere we go and the speed at which we drove there?

But most of us aren’t the kind of super spies that need to cover our tracks and if cars can make routine stuff like parking and the daily commute easier, we’re all for it.

By 2017, Volvo plans to unleash 100 fully autonomous cars on approximately 30 miles (50 kilometres) of selected roads in and around the city of Gothenburg. 

“According to Anders Eugensson, Volvo’s director of government affairs and a key safety strategist, the joint initiative between Volvo and various Swedish government agencies will examine how self-driving cars will handle everyday conditions, such as driving in slow-moving congested urban conditions and on highways, and how normal cars and drivers interact with them.”

Why all the bother? Volvo’s Drive Me project isn’t just about doing the next thing, it is designed to prove that self-driving cars can be safer and more fuel efficient than people. Research suggests that autonomous driving could cut fuel consumption by up to 50% in certain conditions and Eugensson says,

“If you can eliminate driver error, you can eliminate nearly all accidents, as well as the resulting injuries and fatalities.”

And that’s a lot to look forward too.

What do you think?

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