The low point of my evenings out on the town is usually queuing up in a taxi rank, sometimes waiting hours for an available taxi to take me home after having a few drinks with friends.
Imagine if it was just a simple case of launching an app on your Smartphone and selecting the ‘come get me’ option. Within minutes a car arrives, using the GPS data from your Smartphone to find your exact location and has the destination pre-programmed.
No need for awkward conservations with the taxi driver and waiting for him to program your postcode in the Satnav and still somehow getting lost. This is your car, and it will take you anywhere you want at the push of a button.
This sounds very futuristic, but actually the technology already exists and has done for several years. Google have had their autonomous car research programme running in Nevada racking up over 300,000 hours of autonomous driving since 2011. Lane changes, parallel parking, drive-thru restaurants, speed limits and road signs are no problem. Google cars are technically far safer than human drivers as the tech packed into these cars have a 360 degree view of the environment and split second reactions to any situations that may occur on the roads. Imagine if all the vehicles on the road were computer controlled, would we need speed limits anymore? We could have all of our e-mails answered and important calls made before we’ve even arrived at the office whilst the computer controlled car handles our commute.
There have only been two reported incidents by Google that their cars have been involved in. The first was when a human took over control of the vehicle and the second when one of their cars was rear ended at traffic lights – some would argue why was the Google car not smart enough to see this coming…
Recent news articles indicate the Swedish are going to speed ahead with getting autonomous cars on their roads in a huge project run by Volvo in 2014. In the UK, the Department for Transport are testing driverless cars as part of a £28bn investment to look at ways of reducing congestion and making the roads a safer place. Although the principle of this is very cool, I’m not sure as humans we will have full trust in this technology for many years and would certainly take the fun out of road travel. I personally enjoy the freedom of deciding which route I take from A to B and how fast I drive.