Are Computer Driven Cars (Driverless) The Future?


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Special to The Auto Channel
From MoneySupermarket

Money Supermarket From Minority Report to Demolition Man; countless sci-fi films and television shows over the years have featured driverless cars and they have therefore become part of popular culture. It is therefore naturally assumed that they will one day become a reality. But how realistic is this?

Well, it seems it is quite realistic according to a new infographic which has been put together by MoneySupermarket and its going to happen far sooner than you would imagine.

When Can I Buy A Driverless Car?

Contrary to popular opinion, Google is not leading the race to be first to market. This honour goes to Mercedes Benz, who will be releasing a version of the S-Class later this year which is capable of operating autonomously at speeds of up to 25 mph. The idea is that this will be ideal for inner city driving; allowing motorists to switch off during those tedious journeys in traffic.

BMW has launched the new driverless 5 series. The Auto Channel’s Henny Hemmes went along for the ride (see Henny's Driverless BMW story).

Volvo will be following with a similar design which will be capable of autonomous operation when travelling below 31 mph. It sounds quite a nice option, but it isn’t quite the same as the cars in Demolition man. However, General Motors are going to be taking this all one step further in 2015 when they launch cars capable of dropping off their owners and finding their own parking space! Motorists will then be able to specify a pick up location and time to their vehicle using a smart phone app. This will be brilliant for someone who is running late and simply doesn’t have time to drive around aimlessly trying to find a parking space. At a similar time to this, Volkswagen will be releasing a model a car capable of operating without driver input at speeds of up to 80 mph on motorways. It seems that Volkswagen and General Motors are really going to take driverless cars to the next level and make them something which really make a difference to the motoring world.

What About Google’s Move Away From Search and Into Automobiles?
Google estimates that it won’t be making its driverless technology available to the public until 2016 at the earliest. This means that it will be beaten to market by at least four other competitors. Despite all the hype around them, it seems that well established motoring brands have been quietly working away and will still beat them in the race to establish themselves in the industry. There are still a lot of question marks around Google’s plans. How will they make these available being one of the most significant? Will they sell them as a separate piece of technology which can be added onto existing vehicles? Or will they team up with a single manufacturer and supply them with their technology in an exclusive agreement? This decision could seriously impact upon their success.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Auto Channel asks why Google is taking their eyes off search results which have been screwed up since their Panda and Penguin changes. Hey changing an algorithm in search only hurts the publishers, users and advertisers…but screwing up a driverless car will kill people.

Are Driverless Cars Realistic?
The one significant hold up which hasn’t yet been addressed is the law. At present, only three states in America permit the usage of driverless cars. Google is pressuring for more to follow suit, but it is a slow process. Then there is the matter of getting the whole of Europe and Asia to agree to the technology. This could seriously delay the adoption of driverless vehicles. So although the technology is on the verge of becoming usable, it is still going to be some time before we are able to buy and use a driverless car, so chew that gum and drink that coffee before a long trip.


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