In the last few years’ self-driving, autonomous or driverless cars have become a hot topic with everyone from Tesla, to Uber, to Google getting involved.
But there are some fascinating facts about self driving cars that haven’t made it into the mainstream media, and we’ve rounded them up to give you even more insight into what could well be the future of travel.
1. Not a new trend
We may only now have the technology to really make self-driving cars a reality, but the idea is not new at all. In fact, it has been around since as far back as the 1930’s, and in 1939 at The World’s Fair in New York GM’s Futurama exhibit featured driverless technology- albeit a bit different to what we have today!
GM was convinced that by the 1960’s cars would drive themselves, but it seems to have taken us a little longer to get to that point.
2. A car has already driven itself cross-country
And it didn’t really make headlines! In 2015 Delphi, an auto supplier showcased its driverless Audi. Named ‘The Roadrunner’ the autonomous Audi drove itself a whopping 3400 miles across 15 US states, over 9 days.
The car did have a driver behind the wheel just in case, but The Roadrunner reportedly did 99% of the driving itself, leaving the driver to enjoy the gambling online NZ has to offer or read a book instead.
3. Self-driving tech goes beyond cars
If you think that self-driving cars are the only vehicles that are going to be automated, think again. There are already plans in the works for self-driving tractors and trucks, and autonomous agriculture systems are already being tested.
This would mean that the agricultural sector could work longer hours, as there would be no need for manpower to plough the fields as a machine could do it for them.
4. Google has already got 50+ driverless cars in circulation
Google has a fleet of self-driving cars that are regularly spotted on the roads, and their 22 Lexus SUVs and smaller prototype cars have covered more than 1.4 million miles around America. They are adding to their fleet all the time, and updating ad enhancing the technology as they go.
Interestingly, their autonomous cars were originally designed not to have steering wheels or brakes and accelerator, but those plans were scuppered when authorities insisted these controls were implemented as secondary safety mechanism.
5. Age-old ethical debates are returning
There has been much debate as to whether self-driving cars should be programmed to protect drivers at all costs, or cause the least amount of damage possible in the case of an accident.
This has reignited the “trolley problem” debate, and has proponents on both sides of the fence.
6. Accidents have been 90% human error
So far, accidents involving self-driving cars have been few and far between, and those that have occurred have mostly been down to human error.
Sadly one of Uber’s autonomous cars hit and killed a pedestrian that ran out in front of it, but generally accidents have been fender benders, with other parties at fault.