Self-Driving Cars: From Sci-Fi to Non-Fiction

Self-Driving Automobile For decades, the masses have pondered what it would be like to have a car that is fully automated and can drive its occupants without any help or input from a human other than the destination. This was long thought to be something of the movies or the distant future, but they’re here, real and very present.


The movies have always shown a future where people will not have to worry about speeding tickets, drowsy driving, or getting home after some late night libations. You simply get into your car which looks like an iPhone on wheels, say the name of your destination and sit back while you’re silently wisped away in luxurious transport.


This all sounds great in theory but if you think about how complicated a task like creating a self-driving car can be its mind boggling! Even so, some automakers like Mercedes and companies like Google X (a division of Google the Search Engine Company) have figured out the technology and are hoping to have real life models available for purchase by the general public as early as 2020. That’s right, only five years from now you might be able to walk into a dealership, buy a car and then have it drive you home.


Google X is notorious for these quirky little cars driving around California and in June of 2015, their vehicles have now driven over 1 million miles, which is the equivalent to 75 years of typical adult U.S. driving. Throughout the process, they encountered 200,000 stop signs; 600,000 traffic lights and 180 million other vehicles .


While Google X is focusing more on applying the autonomous driving technology to today’s current vehicles, Mercedes is taking a more ground up approach. They’re looking to redefine the entire automotive experience based on how drastic a change this would be with their Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion research car.


All this technology is great but can it be trusted? We all think we’re the greatest drivers are on earth and there’s no way a computer could do better than a human right?


Unfortunately, there have been 14 minor traffic accidents involving Google cars on public roads; however, Google is quick to point the finger at humans, saying that the problems stemmed from the vehicles being driven manually or the driver of the other vehicle was at fault.


All in all, it’s obvious that there are still several hurdles to overcome before autonomous vehicles become “a thing.” With the Google, cars there are still several scenarios that they haven’t encountered. Until the vehicle comes across the scenario and the programmers can make changes accordingly, it may not know how to respond and will enter “Safe Mode”. In this case ,the vehicle crawls along at slow speeds. Also, these vehicles haven’t begun testing in extreme weather yet and how they will respond to snow and heavy rain for example.


While we’re not quite in Jetson’s territory yet we’re only a handful of years out before we can expect to see these autonomous driving vehicles in the market place.