More and more money is being invested in the production of autonomous vehicles, or AV’s for short, a range of vehicles which can drive themselves – a bit like electronic chauffeurs. As more and more companies such as Tesla, Apple, Google, BMW and, most recently, Uber begin to invest in the AV range, we ask whether autonomous driving is something that we should embrace or a terrifying concept which should remain firmly in the realms of science-fiction.
Automated technology has been installed in a range of manually controlled vehicles for the last few years, such as automated parking on some high-end models. These vehicles take the hassle out of parking as they operate the steering to make sure you parallel-park properly first time. Some can even park themselves remotely, so long as the key is within a certain distance. More recently, several countries around the world have been embracing the idea of AV’s, including some experiments with complete driverless vehicles which gives the driver a little bit more freedom within the vehicle, such as in Japan.
AV’s use a range of high-end cameras to scan the roads and build up a picture of the landscape, both near and far. This allows it to identify pedestrians, traffic lights and obey road signs. Sensors on the front and back bumper also keep track of where other vehicles are in relation to its position on the road. Under new stricter regulations, black boxes must also be fitted to all AV’s to make analysing accident data much more straightforward.
The greatest danger to an AV is, ironically, humans. Our unpredictability cannot be understood by the AI, and our individual driving quirks are things it can never predict. This includes pedestrians and inattentive drivers – such as the cause of Google’s latest AV crash in 2018. As well as this, dazzling sunlight has a greater impact on the cameras and sensors, they can be confused by partially concealed road signs and the prospect of hackers being able to access vital controls has prompted strict safety guidelines being introduced.
Yes, high-end security systems are now mandatory in automated vehicles and the prospect of communication between automated vehicles and infrastructure such as traffic lights is being discussed.
As the sector is developing all the time, the capability of automated vehicles is improving rapidly and there’s a chance we’ll be seeing more on our roads in the near future. While there is potential for them to improve our driving experiences, many people are still wary of letting computers control our vehicles. Is it wise to be afraid? Only time will tell, but the signs of an automated future are encouraging.
If you’d rather a computer was driving your vehicle, it could mean it needs a service or has a fault which needs fixing. If you have worries about your vehicle, use our free online booking tool to book an appointment today. Its quick and easy to use, and all you need to do is enter your vehicle registration number and what service you require.