Are driverless cars the future for motoring?
The topic of driverless cars is definitely something that's heating up in the motoring world at the moment. Companies such as Google, Nissan, Ford and Tesla have been working hard to perfect a machine that will change our means of getting around entirely at just the push of button!
The whole concept has the potential to revolutionise the driving world as we know it. Gone could be the days of not being able to use your phone behind the wheel, the designated driver role may become nothing more than a myth, and we could say goodbye to those tedious long and lonely journeys!
How will driverless cars affect our means of transport?
With no risk of human error, we should all be paying much less for insurance as the risks will be dramatically reduced. We'll still need to pay towards the costs of keeping the roads intact but, in theory, we should be seeing the back of parking fines, speed cameras, and congestion charges. Reports indicate that the vehicles and can pin-point objects 2 football fields away! Along with moving pedestrians, other cars, buildings and pretty much everything else. So the chance of an accident could be more than halved!
Tax could be obliterated as they will either run on electricity or some sort of super economic fuel. (No more going into the red on your petrol gauge - the little pod will go off and fill itself up!) Servicing and MOT? Well, these cars won't exactly be indestructible so over time will probably incur some wear and tear or slight damage. But faults should be fewer compared to a regular car in today's era. One problem - the cost of replacing parts could be where we all get stung! Considering the amount of technology and software which will be built in to maximise the cars performance: sensors, radars, cameras, navigation and mapping - it doesn't come cheap! The total cost of manufacturing a driverless car is approximately £150,000! On the plus side, it should be much more affordable than this by the time they become available.
So, for the cost of purchasing a small house, how well equipped will these cars be for handling theft? Apparently they will be extremely difficult to break into as most models will be fitted with top notch anti-theft software. But word is they may also run on Wi-Fi, which could then make them very susceptible to hackers: Let's hope manufacturers are prepared for that scenario by then. We don't want to be seeing a mug shot of a poor innocent autonomous car in the front page of The Sun!
Still a way off yet!
Although plans to create this revolutionary technology has been depicted in many sci-fi movies for the last 30 years of so, it was only in 2011 that the state of Nevada passed a law permitting the use of genuine autonomous cars, with the first ever licence being issued to a Toyota Prius fitted with the Google 'Chauffeur' software in 2012.
Since then many US states have jumped on the bandwagon opening their roads up to the use of driverless, or should I say "robotic" cars, and other parts of the world have been quick to follow suit. We're still quite a few years away before the product is available to the public. Tests have already begun in Bristol, Coventry and Milton Keynes and they are expected to be available in the UK by 2020 according to Chancellor Osbourne. So until then - it's human hands firmly on the steering wheel!