Autonomous cars, also known as self-driving cars, are cars that have the ability to sense the environment around it with no human input whatsoever. When autonomous cars come to market it will unquestionably shake up the car industry and completely change the way we commute today.
How these autonomous cars work is that they are built with a variety of sensors to identify appropriate navigation paths, perceive obstacles and relevant signage.
There are a number of contenders when it comes to who will get their self-driving car on the road first. Waymo, subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. are reportedly ahead of its rivals and are aiming to introduce driverless cars to the public within the next six months. General Motors are not far behind with their Chevrolet Bolt which has been forecasted to come to market in late 2019. They have the backing from Japan’s SoftBank, who have invested roughly £1.8 billion in General Motor’s autonomous drive unit, GM Cruise Holdings. These are the two main companies that have announced they will be expecting to release their self-driving cars before 2020.
So far in the race to the first autonomous car, there have been numerous road accidents and even some have been fatal. The first death involving a self-driving car was by Tesla when their autopilot feature was first brought to the Chinese market. The Tesla Model S crashed into the back of a van, while in autopilot mode which resulted in the death of the 23-year-old driver and there was no attempt of braking made.
Autonomous cars will undeniably change the world as we know it. One way it will change the way we live our lives is that we will be less likely to own a car. The need to spend tens of thousands on your own vehicle and spend money regularly maintaining will be unnecessary. People will have a subscription service where they are able to use a car to get from A to B and then the car will go to the next client.
Driverless cars will also bring big change to city infrastructure. Where autonomous cars move with greater precision as opposed to human driven ones, streets could be narrower, with more space allocated for pedestrians and cyclists. Traffic lights will become obsolete because the cars will know how to avoid collisions. Also with more cars spending more time driving on the road, the space for parked cars will no longer be needed.
While autonomous cars may not catch on with everybody straight away, as some people will still have the desire to actually drive, eventually there will only be driverless cars just because of how convenient life will be with them. Manual cars that will require human input will eventually be a thing of the past and this may happen a lot sooner than you think.