Driverless cars are gaining ground and there’s no longer any doubt that automated vehicles will be changing our commute very soon. Huge corporations, mainly Google, Uber, and Tesla, are already putting autonomous driving technology on the roads. Car companies worldwide are preparing to incorporate fully autonomous technology within this decade.
Six things you need to know about the latest tech include:
1. The U.S. government is officially backing driverless technology. “We envision in the future, you can take your hands off the wheel, and your commute becomes restful or productive instead of frustrating and exhausting,” said Jeffrey Zients, Director of the National Economic Council. The government believes that automated vehicles, “will save time, money, and lives.” While safety guidelines and requirements have been issued, they are vague enough to give forward-thinking companies the reins on producing the most innovative technology possible.
2. Tesla seems to be winning the automated vehicle race, promising that all of their new cars will be equipped with auto-drive technology. However, according to Bloomberg, only certain features will be available, and once more data is gathered on how driverless cars perform on the road, the tech can be updated at a future date for completely autonomous driving. This comes as a big relief to many speculators because Tesla’s driverless tests resulted in a controversial fatal accident. A driverless car crashed into a tractor-trailer, killing the person behind the wheel in Florida last May.
3. Uber has already tested automated cars with a safety driver behind the wheel. Those ordering an Uber in Pittsburgh have the option to choose these cars, but the novelty of doing so wore off pretty quickly. When on the open streets, these cars will not go over the speed limit and take turns extremely slowly. Incidents like passing a double-parked car will require the human driver to take over the wheel. The car will make no maneuver that could possibly be risky, like making a legal right turn at a red light—which can make for a long ride.
4. Ford, among many other car companies, plan to release cars with fully autonomous driving technology by 2021.
5. Google cars fitted with driverless technology have logged at least 1.7 million miles on freeways and open roads with very positive results. They envision a future of two-seat Koala cars. They see the road and understand even congested traffic pattern using LiDAR technology and are equipped with extra sensors for pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles. LiDAR technology means that 64 lasers spin at about 900 rpm to give a 360° view to the driver. This is to create a detailed 3D map of the surrounding environment in real time.
5. Many Silicon Valley companies and government transit authorities believe that filling the road with autonomous cars will make commuting safer by taking human unpredictability out of the equation and equipping cars with technology that has high reaction time. They envision a future in which inexperienced, distracted, tired, or reckless drivers cannot make the roads an unsafe place for others.