Just a few years back I wrote about Google’s self-driving vehicle being tested in the Las Vegas area and at the time honestly it seemed so farfetched. Just too many variables to overcome to make the concept of an autonomous vehicle a reality. As more and more players enter the field it seems as though it is quickly becoming a reality.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that it has designated 10 pilot sites to encourage testing of autonomous vehicle technology.
The selection of the 10 proving-ground sites is “a logical next step in the department’s effort to advance the safe deployment of automated technology,” the agency said in a news release.
In fact as of June 2016, IHS Automotive asserted that “the United States will lead the world in initial deployment and early adoption of autonomous vehicles, while Japan will simultaneously ramp up industry coordination and investment ahead of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.”
The pioneer automaker Tesla recently announced that all their production vehicles will have software with fully automatic self-driving capability. “We are excited to announce that, as of today, all Tesla vehicles produced in our factory – including Model 3 – will have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver. Eight surround cameras provide 360 degree visibility around the car at up to 250 meters of range. Twelve updated ultrasonic sensors complement this vision, allowing for detection of both hard and soft objects at nearly twice the distance of the prior system. A forward-facing radar with enhanced processing provides additional data about the world on a redundant wavelength, capable of seeing through heavy rain, fog, dust and even the car ahead.”
One of our technicians recently attended a training class for Mercedes Benz vehicles and the instructor indicated that the folks at Benz are full speed ahead with autonomous vehicles. According to Mercedes-Benz website “The F 015 Luxury in Motion communicates with its surroundings both visually and acoustically. Large LED displays at the front and rear as well as a laser projection system directed toward the front are responsible for the visual part, while the acoustic communication repertoire includes both sounds and specific spoken instructions.”
Business insider magazine states that at least 19 companies are racing to put self-driving cars on the road by 2021. You can read about them here: http://www.businessinsider.com/companies-making-driverless-cars-by-2020-2016-10/#tesla-is-aiming-to-have-its-driverless-technology-ready-by-2018-1
I have to say with the technology I have seen just in my lifetime this is not so far-fetched. All indications are that this will be a reality and sooner than you think. Imagine having your car take you to the airport and then have it drive itself back home. Maybe you want to go out for the evening and wonder if you should have 1 more glass of merlot? No problem, your car will drive you home. The engineers have taken this concept beyond just the technology standpoint but adding functionality. What if all your commuting time was converted into time you actually accomplished things, your ride could be a mini office space. The possibilities are limitless.
Our next article: Flying cars – look out George Jetson!