Driverless cars are no longer an idea that require a bit of imagination while watching a sci-fi film. They are very much about to become a daily reality. Today, self-driving technology is already available in some car models on the market – and set to become more developed in the future. Here’s everything you need to know about the future of driverless cars.
Driverless cars – also known as self-driving cars and autonomous vehicles – use technology to replace driver assistance with automated safety features to navigate roads. There are five recognised levels of autonomy: no automation, partial assistance, conditioning assistance, high automation and full automation. No car currently qualifies as fully autonomous but manufacturers such as Volkswagen, Tesla and Google are developing and testing partially autonomous cars. For example, Tesla cars come standard with advanced hardware capable of providing the Autopilot feature, which enables your car to steer, accelerate and brake automatically within its lane.
With self-driving cars – perhaps most specifically, partially self-driving cars – set to become a reality in the not-too-distant future, it’s good to start thinking about the driverless cars pros and cons.
The biggest advantage of autonomous cars is fewer errors and accidents, as the systems are designed to spot and correctly react to potential hazards. Another big benefit of self-driving cars is that they allow more freedom, mobility and independence for people living with a disability. Other pros include quicker parking, less wasted police time and faster journey times.
The most notable disadvantage of autonomous cars is the loss of jobs for taxi and lorry drivers. There’s also a big discussion around how easy it will be for people to hack car systems and steal data. And while the number of road accidents is predicted to decrease, there’s the possibility that a system glitch leads to an accident that a human driver might have prevented. Cons also include having to build new infrastructure, the loss of driving skill and uncertainty over how these cars adapt to various weather and terrain conditions.
Imperium Drive is currently trialling driverless cars in the UK. The Fetch car system, backed by the government and Milton Keynes Council, will allow people to order a car through an app. The car, which is remotely controlled by an operator, will then be delivered to them. A ‘safety driver’ will also initially be in every vehicle. Volvo will also launch its first unsupervised autonomous driving technology in its new electric large SUV, which is to be revealed in 2022. Over in Tokyo, Toyota operated autonomous vehicles at the Paralympic Games village in 2021.
The government has said self-driving vehicles could be legalised by the end of 2022.