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Are Self-Driving Cars On The Horizon?

Fleet Of Google Self-Driving Cars

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What Is A Self-Driving Car?
A self-driving car (also known as a driverless car, robotic car or autonomous vehicle) is a car that is completely capable of the same things as a regular car, but without any human input. That means you don’t have to steer, change gears, or navigate the environment, because the car will do it all for you.

One of the huge benefits of self-driving cars is that it will make roads safer, by taking out the ‘human error’ factor in driving accidents. As it stands, roughly 1.2million people worldwide die each year due to road accidents, so self-driving cars will drastically reduce this number.

Self-driving will also save people time, and allow visually impaired or elderly people to travel safely and regain independence. Self-driving cars will essentially let anyone travel, regardless of their ability to drive.

Vehicles Of The Future
Self-driving cars seems like the sort of futuristic cars we see in sci-fi films and TV, but they could soon be a reality.  Technology has taken a huge step, and Lexus for example, have recently created a functioning hoverboard. With great technological jumps like this, it seems that our futuristic self-driving cars may be just around the corner. Google stated that it hoped to see the first of the driverless cars on public roads within a couple of years, although they haven’t given us a price as of yet.

Which Companies Are Testing Self-Driving Cars?
It seems that self-driving cars are no long as far off as they once were, as companies such as Mercedes, BMW, Tesla and Google have all been experimenting with prototypes of autonomous cars. These companies and many others are in a race to complete to first successful self-driving car. However, it seems that Google seems to be leading the way, with several road tests being carried out which have garnered a lot of public attention.

Google’s Self-Driving Project
Google have been working on their self-driving project since 2009, when they started testing the first of their self-driving cars: the Toyota Prius, on freeways in California. So far Google have driven over 1 million miles in their self-driving cars, and are currently testing more cars on public streets in California and Texas. These cars are prototypes that have been designed from the ground up to be completely self-driving, with no human assistance. Currently there are safety drivers on board the vehicles for now, to take over control just in case.

Are Self-Driving Cars Safe?
One of the main worries that people might have is trusting an autonomous vehicle completely. What happens if they crash? An incident like this happened back in July this year, when one of Google’s self-driving cars crashed. However, it wasn’t actually the self-driving car that crashed, but the human driver travelling behind them who failed to slow down. Luckily the human driver was only travelling at 17mph, so no one was seriously injured. The current prototypes have steering wheels and pedals in them so a safety driver can take control of the car if they need to. Future self-driving cars from Google will take out these features completely.

When Can I Get A Self-Driving Car?

Costs need to come down and regulations need to be set before self-driving cars can become mainstream. According to Google, the first self-driving cars will be on sale anywhere between 2 -5 years, so they should be on sale between 2017-2020. So it might be a while before we see self-driving cars on finance or up for sale. However if you can’t wait for a self-driving car, but still fancy a change of vehicle, there are plenty of other options to consider such as personal leasing, 0 car finance and buying outright. Either way, it shouldn’t be too long before self-driving cars become a popular feature on our roads.

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