Wednesday 12th June 2013
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There is a very strong possibility that in the future you could simply become a passenger in your own car every time you head out for a drive. The reason for this is that cars and vans are being designed to become self driving. All you need to do is enter your destination and away you go! Other names for self driving vehicles are called autonomous, robotic, robocars and driverless. These cars are capable of sensing their environment and manoeuvring without the aid of human intervention. At present, there are only prototypes; nevertheless, our future is looking to become more and more robotic!

Self driving cars could change the world

Numerous companies have invested a lot of time and money investigating the possibilities of self driving cars. These companies include Audi, Volkswagen, Ford, Bosch, Continental, Google, Mercedes, Toyota and many more. The University of Berlin, Germany is at the forefront to create the world's first safe self driving car.

Already, self driving cars can analyse their environment using radar, lidar, global positioning systems (GPS) and computer visions. These cars use a spinning cylinder mounted on top of the roof. A scanner is capable of collating a million facts per second to generate real time specifics and thus successfully direct and co-ordinate the vehicle. All these sophisticated technologies mounted on self driving cars are basically copied from aircrafts in the sky today. The concept of an auto pilot is used to navigate the car around the streets.

Self driving cars are now capable of identifying and judging signals, obstacles, humans and other road traffic. They can also sense dangerous situations such as children suddenly running across the road.

Today, we are already accustomed to self driving cars in its minor form. Most motorists are currently enjoying self assisted parking with the use of parking sensors.

Motorists have also been using cruise control for many years; soon we will have the pleasure of experiencing adaptive cruise control. Adaptive cruise control will be able monitor car distances in adjacent lanes and even in front; additionally, it can self adjust its speed. The future is set to look steadily brighter with VW's research on Temporary Auto Pilot (TAP); a self driving car will have no problems reaching 80 mph using TAP technology.

Self driving cars are legal when using lawfully abiding technology. At present, the legality constraints require motorists to be in full control of their vehicle. It will take many years before we see a robotic car without the aid of human control. At present, it is legal for research teams to sit in a vehicle and control the car with the use only of a laptop to investigate computer errors. Presently, these laptops are capable of showing vague images that the human eye would not be able to see.

The University of Berlin hopes to see robotic taxis on our roads in the future. It is believed robotic taxis will be much safer and cheaper. It is also anticipated that robotic taxis will be available as a 24-hour service.

What are your views on robotic taxis?

There is, however, a lot of work that needs to be done for the future of self driving cars. This technology needs to be without flaws, otherwise there will be major catastrophes. Additionally, to produce this kind of faultless technology is time consuming, it has cost constraints and there are legal barriers to pass. Legal liabilities include: who is responsible should a robotic car have an accident or kill a pedestrian?

Currently, it is impossible for a self driving car to judge or predict human body language. These gestures include waving, smiling, stopping and other thank you signals.

Anticipated self driving car benefits

  • Once perfected, it is believed there will be fewer fatal collisions.
  • Road congestions will be a thing of the past.
  • Navigational chores will end.
  • Higher speed limits will be legalized for robotic cars only.
  • Disabled people will be more privileged to travel more freely.
  • Children will be able to sit in a robotic car without an adult.
  • Parking will never be an issue.
  • Robotic cars can pick up passengers, drop them off and return for them as needed.
  • Less traffic police will be needed.
  • Reduced pollution.

What do you think about self driving cars? Are you for, or against?

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