The Revolutionary Self-Driving Car
The daily trip to the office is difficult for many reasons – be it the fatigue, or the early morning strain of holding your cup of coffee while finding your keys to lock the house. But something most people can agree upon is that the absolute worst part of getting to work in the morning is the driving commute itself. Other drivers are rushing to their jobs, your reflexes haven’t woken up yet, and traffic isn’t doing you any favors.
That’s why the future of the morning commute may change completely – simply by automating your car.
Cars of the Future
Google is already testing beta models for their own autonomous cars – and over a hundred companies have created their own self-driving models, be they the Free University of Berlin’s automated vehicles that navigate the crowded roundabouts and streets corners of downtown Berlin by remote control, or Induct Technology’s Navia shuttle, the first autonomous vehicle offered for commercial purchase.
The vehicles are varied and prolific: some autonomous cars are meant to drive through the bumpy roads of war zones – some are sleek and fast to cater to hip urbanites that want to get where they want to go in style, without having to do the work. But all of these vehicles come down to one core principle: a future in which driving could be a simple as flipping a switch and sitting back in your seat is completely within our reach.
But the different technological elements that have gone into autonomous cars have also already helped make current car systems more efficient.
An Automated Reality
Self-parking cars – used by Audi, Nissan, Lexus, Toyota, and more – can effectively get rid of the hassle of parallel parking by using cameras and monitors to gracefully swoop into parking spots without the driver’s help. While the practice has always been a difficulty with the limited view from inside the car’s interior, the car itself has the capability to know exactly how large it is, exactly how far away it is from the car behind and in front of it, and how close it can pull in before it touches the curb.
Automatic braking has also been adapted by many brands, especially large four-wheel drive and family-oriented cars and sedans, where safety features are usually the highest selling point. Auto-brakes have detection sensors that automatically slow and stop a car when they detect an obstacle in front of the car. While experts warn it isn’t always enough to stop a crash, it will always slow the car down at least a little – and in crash tests, it’s been proven over and over again that slower speeds yield better crash survival rates than higher speeds.
Mercedes Benz already has an automated driving system that boasts a “hands off, feet off” capability that is available when driving at speeds of 37 mph or slower. It’s ideal for slow traffic conditions when cars are simply going in a straight direction and are nudging forward at continually slow speeds. The system can even detect road lines, which can help navigate the car on course if the steering wheel were to veer off in the wrong direction, even slightly. It follows cues from vehicles in front of it just like humans do – and stops, slows, speeds up, or pauses when the car in front of it does.
A Convenient – And Safer – Drive
But through all of these new technologies – the ones that make us faster, more efficient, and less encumbered – the number one reason these advancements have been gaining speed is their ability to significantly decrease (if not everntually obliterate altogether) the staggering numbers of car crashes that happen every day (a total of 27,000 accidents every 24 hours).
Cameras on automated cars will be able to provide camera evidence of exactly what happened in each crash, eliminating the need to eye witness accounts that may be biased or faulty. And as automated cars take over the road, they are also able to interact with one another – making it easier for them to avoid any sort of collision. Google sites the fact that 81% of car crashes are made due to human errror – meaning those numbers would be eviscerated once automated driving took over.
The final benefit, though, may be the most alluring: traffic jams would be a thing of the past – and every light would be green.
Learn more about how automated cars will change our cars – and our lives.
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