The notion of the driver-less car is almost as old as the car itself. Man dares to dream. In the 21st century, it’s highly likely that we’ll all have had the experience of an autonomous chauffer at some point. It has been a long road, but the experts believe we’re nearly there.
The First Autonomous Car
In 1939 a man named Norman Geddes Bell designed the first ‘self-driving’ car. It took until 1959 for GM motors to bring the idea to life. Using an electric vehicle and spike embedded in the road, they were able to guide the concept model using electrical signals sent to the vehicle, though the spikes.
Since then we’ve seen many examples of self driving cars using everything from radio signals to cameras and magnetic tracks.
Fast forward to 2020 and the technology that we’ve acquired over the last twenty years has given new, more realistic hopes for the dream. With cars becoming in a way, semi-autonomous already using things like parking assist, collision detection and assisted brakes, we’re already becoming more reliant on technology to take us safely into the future.
The technology to allow the car to drive itself is known. Aided by GPS the cars are able to navigate streets. Using lane technology already active in some cars today, they can navigate busy, multi-laned roads without so much as a whisp of human interference.
There focus therefore, is getting the processes 100% accurate. Road safety will eventually be one of the biggest advantages of autonomous transport. Take away human error, drink drivers and reckless driving and you have a reduced the risks by 90%. This is the figure attributed to human error in road traffic accidents.
As we come closer to the world of automated transport the margin for error becomes smaller. Some countries have already scripted legislation for autonomous vehicles in anticipation of their arrival. Autonomous vehicles will undoubtedly be electric, and as we phase out vehicles that burn fossil fuels, we take another step closer.
When Will We See the First Driver-less Cars in action?
Estimates now range from ten to twelve years before the self-driving vehicle will be common-place on our roads. Tesla already equip all their new vehicles with the Autopilot software allowing for autonomy to take control, although the feature is currently limited and requires driver supervision.
Google’s self drive cars have been lapping their closed-off tracks and out onto city routes for well over a decade now. As more and more electric vehicles appear on the road, it seems autonomy will be phased in and combustion engines phased out making way for a safer, more convenient and eco-friendly future.
Industry experts predict that it will be somewhere near the year 2025.