Although to many of us the idea of an autonomous car may still seem like an extremely futuristic idea, we seem to be seeing driverless cars more and more often in the headlines of late. If you’re a technology fanatic then you will no doubt already be aware that the Government have made announcements that we will be seeing the driverless car on the UK’s roads by as early as January of 2015.
Driverless or autonomous cars are vehicles that do not require the assistance of humans in which to function or be guided, but instead rely upon sensors and cameras. Aspects of recent models of car have been autonomous, but never before have cars been on sale that are fully autonomous. There have been mixed reactions to the announcement, and many people have expressed their scepticism surrounding the success of the cars, however, Business Secretary Vince Cable has himself tested and given the go ahead for the vehicles to be tested on Britain’s roads.
UK cities are being given the opportunity to bid to host the trials of the autonomous car and the competition certainly is high as only 3 cities will be selected to do so. The trials which will last between 18 and 36 months and will test numerous factors surrounding the car’s safety and reliability on the road. As is the case with any new technology, there have been several reports of incidents involving certain models of the Google driverless cars during their test period in the US, and so it is imperative that the tests are carried out here in order to ensure that vehicles are fully road safe before they are released on sale to the general public.
Although the driverless car will be a newcomer to the British roads, Google have been testing out their own car models in certain states in the USA including Nevada and California for several years now. The driverless car is nothing new; Leonardo Da Vinci invented the earliest prototype in 1478, although it is very different from the ones being created today. Things have progressed massively since then and from the 1920s to the present day, major advances have been made – there are even models of driverless public transport being used in the Netherlands which have been in use since 2006.
As exciting as the idea of these cars are, when they are released it is crucial to remember that although these vehicles are autonomous, things can (and most likely will!) still go wrong and so remembering to invest in breakdown cover and regular check-ups are still going to be essential.