Driverless cars: What you need to know
A guest post for GoGet from finder.com.au.
With no need for human assistance to get you from point A to point B, and the capacity to make roads even safer, driverless cars are set to be the next innovation in transportation.
While the technology isn’t fully developed just yet, and with some legal issues still being resolved, driverless cars could disrupt the future of car technology. So here’s what you need to know before you see driverless cars on the streets in as little as five years.
1: How do they work?
Fully driverless cars use a range of technologies to ensure that they comply with road regulations, respond quickly and, most importantly, drive safely. GPS, already a mainstay in many cars today, lets the car know where it is and helps it stay on the correct side of the road. For the consumer, this also automates the process of finding the fastest route so that you don’t need to talk to your car on your daily commute.
Lidar is a type of detection technology that uses lasers to detect objects. Using this, the car can see other cars, objects and people. However, lidar use in cars still has some caveats, such as being unable to detect white objects in the snow or in wet weather. It also struggles with long distance and radar is often required to supplement its shortcomings.
Even though modern cars have onboard computers, driverless cars require more advanced computers, as they will be analysing an abundance of information including the current speed they are travelling, the traction of each wheel and the car’s location. With the help of these analyses, driverless cars can brake faster than a human driver as they are able to process more information in less time.
2: What self-driving technologies are available now?
Modern cars are already becoming more and more automated. Many of them have self-driving features that may even be included in the base model.
Cruise control, which allows you to set a consistent speed for your car, can be useful on long highway drives as it allows the car to maintain the same speed for long distances. Some manufacturers offer an adaptive version that adjusts the car’s speed automatically to match the car in front.
Automatic parking allows the car to park itself by taking over the controls. This is probably the closest thing we currently have to driverless car technology, but it is only suggested for use in good conditions.
3: How much will a driverless car cost?
It’s speculated that driverless technology will be an optional extra in future vehicles, much like a sunroof or parking camera. It’s estimated that this technology will cost an additional $7,000-$10,000 on top of the vehicle price. However, this is expected to drop to around $3,000 in 2035.
While the future of cars may be driverless, the way that people finance them remains the same. For many people, a car loan is a good finance option, however, for those who drive infrequently, a car sharing network is a popular (and cost-effective) alternative.
Going driverless could mean a more productive commute, as you could use your travel time to work or catch up on your news feed. While you can do this on the train or the bus, a driverless car allows you to do this in a private setting, in the comfort of your own car, and it’s often more efficient than catching the bus. On the other hand, Google has identified the biggest issue with a driverless future: other drivers. Until all driving becomes fully automated, it may be a while until driverless cars are introduced to the wider marketplace.
Keeping up to date with new technology is a great way to stay informed about the changing nature of transport. Driverless cars may hold lofty promises for the future, but human knowledge will never become outdated.