Look! With no hands! Are our cars driving themselves in the near future?
Working on your laptop while you’re heading to work. In the future you don’t need to go with the public transport or have to hire a chauffeur to achieve this. You can use your own car! If we believe the media about all these autonomous cars that are coming we might think that this is the near future, but are they?
From Ford to Volkswagen, almost every car manufacturer is working on a self-driving car. Every manufacturer is also very eager to show their prototypes of self-driving cars in the media. The largest issue in this new technology is safety. Can a computer have faster reflexes while controlling a car than a human being? It is certain that computers can do faster calculations for different scenario’s than humans, but would you put your life in the hands of a computer? A February 2014 research among 2000 U.S. adults showed that 88% of them is afraid of driving in a driverless car. They are most afraid for software glitches that will cause the system to fail or warning signs for danger that do not work.
An other question we have to ask ourselves is which skills does a person need to have to drive a autonomous car. Is it still necessary to get a drivers license when the car drives itself?
An other question that comes up is liability. When your driverless car ends up in an accident, who is liable for this? Is it the software company? Is it the car company? Or are you liable yourself?
With new technologies it is likely that insurance companies will ask a premium for the extra-unknown risk. If the car manufacturer is responsible for accidents or damage, they will probably add this premium in the price of the car. This will delay the introduction of driverless cars to the big public who can’t afford these prices.
At this moment the costs of a self-driving car are very high. The laser system that Google is using for their driverless car costs approximately $80.000. If we add this to the cost of a car plus the possible insurance premium, the price is too high for the average customer at this moment.
And at last, another important characteristic of a car: design. All the technology that is needed for a driverless car is very large and blunt. The manufacturers of these cars have not yet achieved to integrate this technology in the design of a car. If you pay a lot of money for a car, you at least would like to see a slick design?
That autonomous cars are the future is inevitable but the current question is when will the first one arrive. I don’t believe that we will go from the current generation of cars to the driverless generation. We will probably see more and more autonomous features in cars in the near future. So step by step we will go to a completely autonomous car, but when this will happen, and when all the downsides have disappeared, only time will tell.