Although we aren’t living in the world of jetpacks and flying cars that we were promised by movies and television of the 20th century, technology has gotten pretty advanced.
What is a self-driving car?
A self-driving car is exactly what it sounds like: a car that can drive itself. It uses a combination of technologies to remain aware of its surroundings, stay the course, and drive safely even when nobody is at the wheel.
There has been some level of experimentation with self-driving cars for most of the 20th century. In fact, the first autonomous vehicle was created in 1977 and was able to get up to 30 KPH.
With the level of modern technology available today, we’re just starting to see the first round of successful, practical self-driving cars.
How do self-driving cars work?
A lot of different pieces of technology must work together simultaneously for a self-driving car to work properly. Since the car has to know where it’s at at all times and drive accordingly, it uses a GPS. To make sure self-driving cars avoid pedestrians, signage and other vehicles, they are equipped with collision sensors and collision prevention systems.
Speaking of signage, that’s another important part of self-driving cars. Not only does signage change somewhat frequently, there are some signs that are only temporary. Because of this, a self-driving car needs to have some technology that allows it to read signage.
Self-driving cars also have to drive differently depending on the types of vehicles they’re near. If it’s driving next to an 18 wheeler, it needs to know that it’s an 18 wheeler and not some other, smaller vehicle.
When will self-driving cars be available?
There have been many self-driving cars over the years, and some have even gone into pretty extensive testing. At the moment, there are no actual self-driving cars on the market.
Tesla currently sells all of its vehicles with self-driving technology inside. While this technology isn’t actually available for consumers to use yet—nor would it be legal to do so—they plan on making these vehicles self-driving at some point in the near future.
At the time of writing this, the first autonomous car is slated to debut in 2020. It’s manufactured by Audi and will be fully autonomous. This will likely be the first fully self-driving car that consumers can easily purchase.
Best self-driving car
With all the different manufacturers hopping on the self-driving car trend, there’s on important question: who makes the best one?
Just about every top auto manufacturer is planning on making a self-driving car of some sort. While trusted names like BMW and Mercedes-Benz, as well as Audi’s introductory model, will likely be some of the top choices, there are some other strong competitors out there.
Tesla is one of the most advanced automobile manufacturers in the world, so you can expect them to have good self-driving technology when it’s available. Also, if Audi does end up being the first to release a self-driving car, there’s a good chance it will be one of the better-functioning models on the market.
Are self-driving cars safe?
Much has been made about the a safety of self-driving cars. Self-driving cars have an element of danger for the same reason they took so long to actually make: It’s difficult to take human error into account on the road, and there are millions of other humans driving.
Nonetheless, self-driving technology has proven to be relatively safe. The whole purpose of self-driving cars is to make a vehicle that not only drives itself, but drives itself in a way that’s safe for both the passenger, pedestrians, and other vehicles on the road. GPS and collision detection technology help prevent accidents and keep cars on the road, while the ability to read signage and recognize vehicle types allows self-driving cars to adjust their speed and other parameters for safety.
At the end of the day, though, there’s no replacement for having a human behind the wheel. All technology has some potential to fail at any given time, so you can’t be completely sure that a self-driving car will work 100% of the time. Even so, you’re probably not increasing your risk of an accident on the road too much since driving is always dangerous.
When can I buy a self-driving car?
Although there is no concrete date for when self-driving cars will be available, there’s a good chance the first versions that are available to consumers will be released around 2020.
How much is a self-driving car?
Although there aren’t any true self-driving cars that you can purchase at the moment, you can find plenty of information about their price. You can also use the prices of semi-autonomous vehicles to gauge what the price of actual self-driving cars will be.
The 2017 Honda Civic LX had some self-driving features but isn’t a fully self-driving car. Still, it had a price tag of only $20,440, far lower than what you might expect for a car with these types of features. You also have to consider that Honda is a quality automobile manufacturer, so they’re not the cheapest option.
What is the Google smart car?
Waymo is the name for Google’s self-driving car project which launched in 2009. Google was one of, if not the first company to test a fully self-driving car. In all its years of testing, Waymo has had only 13 accidents, eight of which were the fault of another driver.
Google’s smart car is not only a pioneer in the self-driving car industry, it’s tangible proof that self-driving cars can work. It’s also shown that they don’t necessarily increase the likelihood of you getting in accidents, and that your biggest risk on the road is other drivers.
Why self-driving cars are good
You might be wondering why self-driving cars are such a big deal. I mean sure they’re cool and the idea sounds convenient, but are there any real benefits to owning a self-driving car?
The benefits of self-driving cars will be increased as more and more self-driving cars hit the road. If most of the cars on the road are self-driving, they will all know how to interact with each other without causing accidents. This means that a future with self-driving cars could make the road safer, give more people access to transportation, reduce the cost of building fancy infrastructure, and even reduce the traffic on the road.
As you can see, self-driving cars like the ones Tesla is making are poised to play a key role in the future of transportation. Expect to see these high-tech vehicles on the road within the next few years and continuing to grow for many years after that.