In the UK a law was just passed that made self-driving cars legal. This means that companies like Google – who have been testing their driverless cars around LA – can now start testing in the UK as well. It’s a sign of the general level of acceptance for these automated vehicles which is slowly starting to grow and suggests that it might not be too long before this is actually the norm.
But what is the current status quo with these driverless cars? Why aren’t we already seeing them? And what will it mean for us when they finally do take off?
The Current Status
Calling Google’s cars ‘driverless’ is actually a bit of a misnomer. While Google’s vehicles have been driving around California on-and-off road for a while now, they have never done so without a passenger there to make sure things go well. So as yet, we still don’t really have cars driving around entirely on their own.
That might be the case, but in fact these cars have so far proven not to really need their babysitters. In fact they have shown to be considerably safer in terms of the number of accidents they create than even conventional cars with drivers.
This stands to reason when you think about it really: algorithms that drive cars don’t get tired, they don’t get angry and they don’t stop paying attention. They can precisely measure distances and speeds at all times, and they can even communicate with satellites and other cars on the road in order to get up-to-date and accurate information about traffic. That’s all pretty impressive.
And in fact you might have seen this kind of precision in action yourself: as many cars now have ‘self parking’ mechanisms that can handle things like parallel parks that you probably wouldn’t even attempt yourself.
So in fact the technology is very much already there, and the testing is really just a matter of collecting data and gaining acceptance.
So with this in mind, where are we likely to go from here?
Over time it’s almost certain that these technologies will improve and that they will become more and more accepted. Once this happens, we’re liable to see these vehicles more and more appearing on the roads. Initially they’ll likely be used by bigger corporations and government – perhaps to deliver cargo and supplies by driving cargo trailers, but in the future we could well see them become commercially available.
This then means that you could sit in the car and read a book while your vehicle gets you to your destination. At the same time you could send your vehicle to pick up your children from school while you stay home to do the dishes. Or you could have your car come and pick you up after a night out: like a valet without a valet.
It’s unlikely we’ll see normal cars disappear for a very long time. But in the meantime these self-driving capabilities could create huge new opportunities for a myriad of amazing applications.
Author Bio: Warren Brown is a freelance blogger and an ace creative write with many years of experience writing for top blogs. Warren has written on a myriad of topics and has written several posts for us.