“It’s being steered – by nobody! It’s being controlled – by the intelligence!”
It has been three days ago since the Audi RS7 driverless concept car completed a full lap around the Hockenheim Grand Prix at racing speeds. Without a racing driver, the car managed to reach speeds of 240km/s. This is certainly a whole different kind of automatic car than the ParkShuttle at Kralingse Zoom.
The Audi RS7 concept car uses a series of sensors, cameras and GPS location services to precisely maneuver the car. However, while the concept of automatic driving is based on the idea that the car will drive fully automatic and no human input is required, the traditional car manufacturers want to retain some of the human input. At high speeds, the driver is required take over the wheel and drive manually again. In some models, the on-car computer system software even checks whether the driver is awake or not. The system merely assists the driver with some functions. Google, on the other hand, has the desire to develop fully automatic cars. Originally, Google planned to develop these cars without steering wheels. Only due to compliance to California legislation laws did Google include manual brakes and a steering wheel into its test models.
Governments in the United States and the United Kingdom have already allowed the testing of automatic driving. The Netherlands will soon follow according to minister Schultz. However, there are still issues to be solved, such as liabilities when accidents occur, and safety. The manufacturers of the automatic cars argue that these automatic cars will make driving safer, because the cars are able to spot objects from meters away with its different sensors.
With not only traditional car manufacturers, such as Audi, Nissan and Toyota developing technologies to make automatic driving possible, but even technology giants Google and Baidu putting effort into it, it seems that driverless cars will go mainstream in about 10 to 15 years, according to analyst Jordan Perch. The Audi RS7 showcases the self-driving technology we can expect in the near future, given that current laws will be adapted to allow driverless cars on the roads.