We started off with crank engines and stick shifts and we’re all comfortable with automatics and newfangled automatic stop-start engines, but the reality of driving a car is still a very hands-on experience. As anyone who’s ever had to make a car insurance claim knows just a momentary loss of concentration can lead to serious damage. However, just a flick through some of the front pages of any motoring magazine will tell you that self-driving cars are much more of a reality than they were ten years ago.
As with much new tech, Google is a frontrunner in the market and its driverless tests have relied largely upon laser technology to sense and create a virtual environment around the car. Much like a bat using radar, the Google technology allows the car to make split-second decisions based upon what it receives. Couple this with an intelligent navigation system and you’re close to a self-driving car.
Who Can Drive Them?
However, Google has no plans to release these cars commercially and at well over $70,000 for the sensory equipment alone, it’s not likely that they’ll change their minds in the future. There remain tough licensing issues with driverless cars, too, and it’s unclear who, if anyone, will legally be able to drive the cars in the future.
Another option is available, however, though it’s still most definitely in development. The new Mercedes S-Class will come with Mobileye technology which pits ordinary digital video cameras against Google’s radar system. The technology can sense pedestrians in blind spots, negotiate slow traffic and keep within a motorway lane without problem.
This system does require the driver to keep their hands on the wheel and you will most definitely need a full drivers license to be able to operate these vehicles; particular as a top of the range S-Class can pump out around 450bhp. As far as cost is concerned, it’s not surprising that these cars are making their way to market before Google’s.
It’s thought that Mobileye systems could eventually lead to a fully fledged self-driving car and the company behind the designs believe they can introduce such a system by 2016. It will have to be quick work for the idea to catch on in the next two years, but with the market moving as quickly as it is, it’ll certainly be interesting to keep an eye on how things develop.