If there’s one thing that is for sure in the uncertain climate of the modern automotive industry, it’s the fact that in the future we will choose if we want to actually drive our car, or not. Advancements in this area are already being made with Google’s self-driving cars, as well as the slew of active and passive safety aids found on modern cars.
Think about it, if you get a fully-loaded midsize sedan in the US, you’ll be getting the lane departure warning system (which can also steer you back on track), front collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, self-parking, blind spot warning, active cruise control, and BMW’s i3 will reportedly be able to navigate city traffic by itself, overtaking and all.
If you add all of those systems together, with today’s tech, any new and well-equipped car can be called almost-self-driving, so the transition to a fully-autonomous drive won’t be very abrupt. If you were wondering when that may be, The Detroit News says no sooner than 2025, passing on the knowledge shared by experts at the Society of Automotive Engineers 2013 World Congress.
Once these systems will be a feasible commercial proposition, you will be able to buy a self-driving car, which we’re willing to bet is going to be a flagship offering from a mainstream manufacturer (my money is on Volvo, Mercedes-Benz or Toyota/Lexus), if the industry doesn’t undergo any drastic changes in the meantime.
The advantages of such a system are plainly evident, so we will not mention them. However, the safety aspect is crucial, and once cars become autonomous, the number of deaths should go down dramatically, especially since one of the leading causes of accidents is not being fully-concentrated on the job of driving.
Lastly, there’s the risk associated with entrusting your safety into the hands of machines and computers. Sure, their software is tested, and sure many possible situations are covered so that it’s never surprised, but it will never be 100 percent safe. According to Christian Schumacher, head of Continental Automotive’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems for the NAFTA region, “if one accident happens as a result of automation […] then we’re having a totally new discussion,” and a very interesting one at that.
By Andrei Nedelea