Self driving cars are a concept that has intrigued people for a long time. There are a lot of concepts under development – Google is a major name that has dedicated a lot of effort to them, and Apple is rumored to build one itself. And a lot of progress has been made in this matter: we could see Johnny Cab (the computer-controlled taxi from the old Total Recall movie) roam the streets soon. But how soon?
Google’s Sergey Brin told the public in 2012 that self-driving cars might make it to the streets as early as 2017. Later another Google executive has updated this estimate, pushing out the release date of such products to the years between 2017 and 2020 – which is more realistic. One thing is for sure: we won’t see a truly autonomous car in traffic this year. So, if your dream was to play all slots online casino games while “driving” to work, you’ll have to wait a few years to fulfill it.
But if you are eager to try driving without driving, you’ll need to buy a Tesla – more specifically, a Model S. The car uses a combination of cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors, plus the data provided to it over the air, to drive autonomously. While still under development, Tesla’s “Autopilot” feature shows a lot of promise. Today its Autosteer feature can keep the car in its lane, maintains the car’s speed and will even change lanes automatically once the driver signals this intention. It’s not a fully automated system – it requires the driver to keep hands on the steering wheel. It merely assists the driver and makes the driving experience easier.
We’ll most likely see a series of new features introduced this year, which will bring us close to self-driving cars. Mercedes plans to launch its “Autobahn Pilot” which will allow autonomous driving on the highway, and even overtaking of other vehicles automatically. Dutch tech company Mobileye is planning to release a similar feature this year, followed by a similar set of features for country roads in 2017. But more exciting products are on their way to be released the following years, like Tesla’s fully autonomous car (which will allow the driver even to fall asleep), or Chinese tech giant Baidu’s self-driving car which will take on Beijing’s crazy traffic.
If you enjoy driving, don’t despair: self-driving cars will not become mainstream for at least five years, and will only overtake traditional cars on the road by 2035. Until then you’ll have to make do with what you have – the roar of the engine, the asphalt under the wheels, and the wind in your hair while you steer.