Are we in the age of the driverless car, or are we thinking too far ahead? 

Manufacturers including; Google, Tesla, GM, Toyota, Nissan, Volvo and Audi have all demonstrated driverless cars and are leading the way when it to the technology, which was previously thought to be little more than a pipe dream.  

Despite having a long way to go, Google are currently testing its cars by combining virtual technology with real road situations. In total they have recorded over 1 million miles of driverless transportation so far.

So what do we make of this new technology?

We’re about to embark into a world where we place our trust and, whilst it sounds dramatic, our lives in the hands of technology. Computers may be efficient in repetitive tasks, but how could a computer know how to nip into another lane, or drive conservatively in heavy snow or rain? Surely no computer knows how to do this better than the average human?

We tend to assume that everyone’s a pretty good driver and car crashes are not rare, but infrequent. However, according to the Department of Transport the number of people seriously injured in reported road traffic accidents increased by 5 per cent to 22,807 in 2014, compared with 2013. So it seems, perhaps, we’re not as safe as we first thought?

In fact, the only accidents registered from the Google self-driving car was because of other driver’s errors. The technology on board these Google’s driverless car is vast, costing around $150,000 it boasts a range finder laser which allows the vehicle to generate a detailed 3D map of its environment allowing it to produce different types of data models so it can drive safely.

Google are continuously developing their software so that it can detect hundreds of distinct objects simultaneously, these include; pedestrians, buses, a stop sign held up by a crossing guard, or a cyclist making gestures that indicate a possible turn. A self-driving car can take all of this information into account and never get tired like a human can, one of the many factors of why automotive accidents happen.

Tesla’s recently unveiled new autopilot system has safety at the heart of its core too. It has tech similar to the Google car and brags to remove the most tedious and potentially dangerous aspects of road travel. It can do anything from searching for a parking space for you, alert you to when one is available and Parallel Park on command.

Is this for tech lovers or car lovers?

Car enthusiasts all over the world will say that a car is not just a car. It’s a culture that has no boundaries, no walls but a universal aim to explore the open road. The beauty, essence and the freedom that the car provides has been evident since the birth of the iconic 1920’s sports car.

In the early years, car enthusiasts were left alone to enjoy every aspect that it provides; those days of adrenaline fuelled journeys and that sheer rush of the wind as you drive your pride and joy and to show off to your neighbours with your purchase.

With the introduction of Formula1 and manufacturers like Porsche, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Lamborghini have allowed for car enthusiasts from every corner of the globe to congregate and come together as one community to enjoy and share their passion of motoring.

However this much loved pastime, seems to be edging closer to war between the eco-friendly community and the fuel guzzling car enthusiasts. With the introduction of eco-friendly cars in the 1980’s, the philosophy of a car’s sole purpose has been transformed from the previous thrill and vanity of getting from one place to the next has changed to now doing it as safely as possible, and as efficiently as possible.

Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google, acknowledged the fight between tech and tradition recently. "I love the idea of being out on an open road that's curvy and fun, when you're driving and really getting into it. But that's probably about 1 percent of my experience."

The thing that car lovers can’t argue with is that driverless cars make driver more efficient and safer, the two biggest issues that are inherent when you’re a car owner. As the driverless car becomes more and more common as we head into the future, will it be too disruptive to catch on?

Final Thoughts

It seems that “The Age of The Driverless Car” is soon to be upon us. That age old past time of driving for thrill and enjoyment is disappearing and being replaced by cars that perform their task of transporting us to and from different destinations in the most efficient and safe manner as possible.

Is this ideology of efficient safety a step in the right direction? With the increasing number of deaths being caused by dangerous drivers you can understand the need for safer transportation and perhaps these driverless cars are the answer. It all comes down to what you want to ask yourself, who would you place your trust with…

Technology…. Or the person sat next to you?

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