Will self driving cars go the way of the long promised, but never really delivered hoverboard? Here at Big Motoring World we’re pretty sure not – judging by the amount of investment that the big companies are putting into researching, developing and now testing these cars, you can be sure we’ll be seeing them on the roads sometime soon.
State of play
So where do things currently stand with driverless cars? Well, here in the UK they’ve already been out and about, being tested on the streets of Milton Keynes. There are already plans for them to be tested on our motorways as soon as this year. There has also, tragically, been the first driverless car-related fatality, when the autopilot sensors on a Tesla Model S in the US failed to spot a white lorry trailer crossing in front of it against a bright sky. However despite isolated incidents like this research and development into driverless cars in continuing apace.
The tech companies and electric car innovators who have shown the most willingness to innovate – Google, Uber and Tesla – have invested huge amounts in researching driverless technology, and to some degree have stolen a march on the traditional car makers. They’re quickly catching up however, with BMW, Volvo and GM all investing in their own research.
A cultural shift
The final shape of the driverless car revolution may not be quite what people currently imagine however. Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries we have become used to the idea of owning our own cars. Yet it may be that one day people are astonished at the idea of splashing out thousands of pounds on a vehicle that spends much of its time sat idle outside our home. In the era of driverless cars, personal transportation could follow a shared, on demand model: you will use a driverless car for a single journey, and then once that is completed the car will drive itself to the next person who needs it. It all means that driverless cars may bring in a cultural and behavioural – as well as a technological – revolution.