Imagine zooming down the road in a car with no one driving. Everyone inside the car is relaxing and having a great time while the car does all the work. No, this is not something from a science-fiction movie. It is the world of autonomous, driverless or self-driving cars which operate with little or no human intervention. Thanks to the integration of numerous technologies that have matured over the years. With wireless internet, GPS satellites, digital maps, driver assistance systems, and automotive radars, ADAS ultrasonic wave components, and LiDAR system sensors, autonomous cars have become a reality.
The demand for autonomous vehicles has grown significantly in the recent times. This is because consumers have become used to personalized and seamless experiences, especially while interacting with digital technologies. They want their vehicles to provide them with interactive and automated experiences. Moreover, the growing awareness among consumers regarding the advantages of self-driving cars such as enhanced mobility is propelling the market growth. Such cars would also be a great asset for blind and elderly people or those with vision impairment. Talking about safety, experts estimate that autonomous cars would greatly reduce the chances of accidents, the majority of which are caused by human error.
While the demand is growing, automotive manufacturers are entering the market by introducing novel technologies and business models. Almost every player in the industry is working hard on the development and implementation of self-driving vehicles. The driverless electric car prototype from Google is the first real incarnation of Google’s vision of what an autonomous car in the near future could be like. Designed to test the next stage of its five-year-old self-driving car project, it resembles a cross between a smart car and a Nissan Micra, with two seats and room enough for some luggage. Many other players such as Ford, Toyota, Kia, Nissan, General Motors, BMW, Apple, Tesla, and Volkswagen are working on developing prototypes of autonomous cars or have already tested them in road traffic.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) recently confirmed that Apple has 55 vehicles and 83 drivers permitted to test autonomous vehicles. The company’s fleet size increased since it obtained a permit to test autonomous vehicles. However, Apple’s cars require a safety driver as the company is yet to apply for a driverless test permit following recent regulation changes by the DMV.
General Motors plans to develop autonomous cars by 2019 that lack traditional controls such as steering wheels and pedals. The company’s Cruise Automation unit is testing autonomous Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles with human backup drivers in San Francisco, Detroit, and Phoenix. “We’re continuing to make great progress on our plans to commercialize in 2019,” stated Dan Ammann, president of General Motors, “our Orion and Brownstown teams have proven experience in building high-quality self-driving test vehicles and battery packs, so they are well-prepared to produce the Cruise AV.”
Autonomous cars will certainly be one of the greatest innovations of the 21st century. Having revolutionized the transportation industry, this innovation is set to have a profound impact on the lives of people in the coming years.