The future is closer than we think - the reality of autonomous cars

Gone are the days where watching self-driving cars in the movies was futuristic fantasy; these are now an imminent reality.

Published: 1st February 2018

Gone are the days where watching self-driving cars in the movies was futuristic fantasy; these are now an imminent reality that we could see on our streets sooner rather than later.

Large companies such as General Motors and Intel are showing off their engineering and technological prowess as they highlight their latest autonomous driving designs. Alongside being one of the main features at the latest CES conference in Las Vegas, it is clear that this is one advancement set to take the world by storm in the very near future.

 

Arguably one of the most disruptive innovations the sector has ever seen, these advanced vehicles use a combination of cameras, radars, laser scanners and computing technologies to control and monitor the movement of vehicles throughout their journey.

Autonomous driving carries a number of benefits, which have the potential to create a dramatic impact on the economy, including: an increase in personal and economic productivity, boosted fuel economy, a reduction in traffic fatalities, and alleviating the need for wasted urban parking spaces.

Autonomous vehicle are currently classified into five levels, ‘Level 1’ supports the driver, but doesn’t take control of the vehicle, and ‘Level 5’ achieves full automation, housing the driver as nothing more than a passenger, ready to sit back and enjoy the ride. The first step we are likely to see on our roads is in the form of a robo-taxi – working on the same principle as ride-requesting apps, such as Uber, you will be able to hail a ride to take you to your destination. Unlike current ride-sharing, you will have complete control over the journey, being able to control the climate, music and other features at the click of a button from your phone.

Whilst we may still be waiting to see these vehicles on our streets, there is one industry that is already utilising their capabilities. In northwest Australia, mining company Rio Tinto was one of the first to explore the possibilities of autonomous mining technologies. They now have a small fleet of 416-ton haulers, each the size of a small property, driving themselves around four above-ground mines within the territory and interacting with robotic rock-drilling rigs, all operated by a team of employees safely stationed 750 miles away.

With manufacturers such as BMW leading the self-driving revolution, it will not be long until these futurist vehicles – which will possibly lack the traditional manual controls we are used to, including the steering wheel and pedals – could be seen driving in a city near you.

 

Are you excited to see what lies in store? Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn!

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