Have you ever cooked a steak, realised you have no time to eat it because you are due to be at your mother’s any minute, and reluctantly fed it to the dogs on your way out? Probably not, but the tiny % of you out there that have will be dropping to your knees. Self-driving technology just made your life easier, and the planet a little greener. One day soon, you’ll be able to say “Car, drive to Mum’s,” and slice into that juicy joint of meat on your way with your feet up, anxiously counting down the seconds until you’re berated with questions about your relationship status.
In 2009, Google decided they needed something else to slap their name on – Self-Driving cars! Subsequently, in 2016, Autonomous technology company Waymo became a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, and Google’s project became Waymo. Think of it as though you really want a puppy, so your dad buys you a puppy company and says ‘have at it.’
Autonomous technology has already been allowing cars to self-park and automatically steer with drivers supervising; Mercedes-Benz have cars that drive and control speed – but the next step in autonomy is on the horizon where they’ll be fitted with 360 cameras that assess potential obstructions and are able to navigate to destinations with no human guidance.
Billions, if not trillions of dollars will be lost by manual-driving companies in the exercise to make self-drive available if they don’t jump on the bandwagon and get a head start. Companies such as Rolls Royce and Ford are already evolving, but the rest need to pave their way forwards before they get held back. Adjusting with the times accounts for design as well as technology, who will need 8 airbags if accidents are so rare? Who will need parking outside of work if their car can drop them off and pick them back up again? Cars will always need steel, glass and wheels, but what changes can be made? Front facing seats will no longer be a requirement, you could old-school Buick Flamingo it if you really felt the need, although for reputation reasons, it wouldn’t be wise.
Another Google Goal (guaranteed patent pending after they see this), is car sharing. Despite the potential for taxi services to run out of business, a new way of travel will inevitably become commercialised, following in the footsteps of China’s Robot Taxis, which go for (2 Yen) 22 pence a trip! This would mean fewer cars on the road, less of a need for parking areas and more room for nature to reclaim urbanised areas. With fewer cars on the roads, a reallocation of $180 billion annually, normally spent on road work, can be used in other areas such as climate protection, de-urbanisation and eco-efficient alternatives to oil.
These cars won’t get drunk or high, drive too fast or take risks – snowflakes, am I right? Hackers could however intercept their functions and control the cars remotely, presenting a potential risk of having 90% of the car as a computer.
There is growing hype for driverless cars, and many companies (Google, Rolls Royce, Tesla…) are teasing the prospect of deliverance sooner than we think. This would mean fewer fossil fuels, safer roads, and lower transportation costs. They are coming, and they’re coming fast – it could be decades but in the grand scheme of things, futuristic driverless technology is here, in our lifetime, and it is proving to be indispensable before its even hit the shelves. “The building blocks for driverless cars are on the roads now.”
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