Driverless cars – also known as autonomous technology – used to be something you only heard about in sci-fi movies, but now they’re close to becoming a reality.
The development of self-driving cars is well underway, as many of the biggest names in the car and technology industries are competing and collaborating to create them. In just a few short years, driverless cars have gone from being a futuristic dream to real life. While release dates and pricing are still in talks, you should be aware of the developments of driverless technology.
How do self-driving cars work?
The technology behind these cars is complex. Your car essentially turns into a computer on wheels that can take full control when on the road.
It’s made up of five main components:
- Cameras – These are placed in the front of the car to detect traffic signs, lights and visual road markings.
- LIDAR (laser sensor) – These are placed front and back in various different locations to detect any objects around you, such as curbs, cars or pedestrians.
- Radar – This works with onboard sensors to figure out the speed and position of obstacles. It allows the car to stop quickly and avoid hitting anything or running a red light.
- CPU – This is required to analyse data coming from the sensors. As you switch your control over to the computer, the CPU will take over.
- GPS – This tracks where your car is, where it needs to go, and when it should change lanes.
The technology for driverless cars is still evolving, in order to reduce as many accidents as possible, and for a safer driving experience for everyone.
Where are driverless cars?
The UK has grand plans for driverless cars as the Government wants the country to be at the forefront of self-driving cars (it believes the industry in the UK will be worth £28 billion in 17 years’ time.) They’ve said they want autonomous cars to be used commercially by 2021.
However, you can actually buy a car with fully autonomous driving technology right now, but there are limitations on just how much independence from its driver it’s allowed to have. We are still a long way from allowing cars to do all driving while you snooze on your daily commute.
What are the benefits?
According to the manufacturers, the benefits of self-driving cars are almost endless. As they free cars from the control of a human, they become much less likely to crash, making road travel a lot safer.
There is also likely to be environmental advantages to self-driving cars, again because of the elimination of an ‘unreliable human’. People don’t always drive their cars in the most effective manner, whereas computers can make the most efficient inputs. Not only is this technology more environmentally friendly, it will also save money on running costs. Other and more obvious benefits of these cars include being able to catch up on emails on the way to work, eat your breakfast or relax before, and after, a busy day.
However, as with most things, some people have doubts when it comes to autonomous cars. There are concerns about the technology and questions about whether we really want to hand over control of our cars to computers, because what if something goes wrong?
Another question on autonomous cars is whether this would mean we’d say goodbye to our traditional MOT process? But, for now, Halfords Autocentre will cover the cost of your MOT when you purchase anything, other than a 5p carrier bag, from one of their retail stores by October 14. So, before we make the change to driverless cars, get your current vehicle booked in for a bargain.
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