A fully autonomous car was once a dream but now is a reality. According to data from the DGT, currently more than 90% of traffic accidents that occur on our roads are due to human failures. That means if we had the key to avoid this type of error, most of the more than 2,000 deaths that occurred due to traffic accidents in 2017 could have been avoided. This possibility, a priori unattainable is closer than we think. Thanks to the technological evolution of the automotive world and the emergence of autonomous cars/vehicles that are capable of traveling independently, without the need for a driver.
We’ve been hearing about them for years. But when will they be released to the market? And what is more important … When will they be within our reach? We explain it to you below.
A gradual evolution
For some years now, the big car manufacturers have begun to work, in collaboration with the main technology companies, so that the launch of a fully autonomous car becomes a reality.
In this sense, it is true that vehicles with a certain autonomy have already been found on the market, thanks in particular to advanced ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) systems, such as the cruise control system, the system of assisted steering, the system of recognition of traffic signals or the assistance in the change of lane. Even some models already have autonomous driving options in very specific conditions such as low-speed situations, urban environments…
The ADAS systems are the precursors of what will be automated driving, whose introduction will be gradual. And is that the manufacturers say that this will be beneficial both for consumers, who can gain confidence progressively and start investing in this type of vehicle, as for manufacturers, who can develop the necessary technology and solve the defects with which they leave finding on the fly. In most cases, there will continue to be the possibility of disconnecting the automation of the vehicle and driving it in a traditional way. Keep reading Which 7 features you should see before buying a new car?
It is predicted that it will not be until 2025 when we see cars driving by themselves.
Who is working on a fully autonomous car?
Mercedes Benz, Toyota, Nissan, Volvo, Honda, Kia, Ford, Citroen, Peugeot, TESLA, Waymo … There is no manufacturer that does not want to join the fashion of autonomous cars. And they themselves recognize that, although there is still work and technological development ahead, it is an unpronounceable future.
It seems that Mercedes took the initiative in this field on April 7 with the market launch of the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class, which incorporates innovative systems such as Drive Pilot, a very complete system that is as close to autonomous driving: It is capable of carrying out operations such as maintaining the car in the lane without the driver’s intervention, maintaining the programmed speed, safe distance with the preceding vehicle, braking autonomously until the stop, restarting the car when you get in or the Active Detector of Change of Track, that allows changing the lane if we indicated it with the intermittent one.
Others like Nissan are not far behind, as they have announced that the next model of their already traditional Qashqai will be their first vehicle with Piloted Drive technology.
In addition, technology providers such as Apple, Google or Bosch have been developing systems in this sector for years and investigating how to offer value services to the user when they use the vehicle and do not have to drive.
Advantages and disadvantages of a fully autonomous car
Automated driving will affect the whole car: its propulsion system, the brakes, steering, navigation … hence, it has many advantages for the user, who will have practically nothing to worry about. But, like all devices in their first years of development, it is also true that they present some disadvantages.
- Greater safety: a reduction in the number of errors at the wheel and consequently in the number of accidents is expected.
- Improved circulation: vehicles will be more efficient in heavy traffic situations.
- Greater energy efficiency: another of the improvements will be its operation through the electricity grid so that energy consumption will be saved.
- Increase in productivity: especially when carrying out some tasks en route, for example, parking. The driver can get off the car and this can autonomously find a parking.
- New design and greater power: you will not need all the elements of traditional cars.
- Higher price: the first models will be, logically, higher price, so it is possible that they have to spend a few years from its launch until they are within everyone’s reach.
- Possibility of technological failures: this is the main disadvantage. And, like everything else, technology is not infallible, so there could be cases of errors in the programming of the vehicle code, entailing a danger that could lead to road accidents.
Insurance for autonomous cars and applicable legislation
Another brake on the arrival of a fully autonomous car is the need to update the applicable legislation at the same time as the offer of current insurance products. Think, for example, of the responsibility that would result in accident cases. Whose fault would be the road accident of an autonomous car? Of the driver, of his insurer, of the manufacturer…?
This forecast of the future is causing more and more insurers to seek an adaptation of their business models. It is true that it is expected that with these vehicles there will be fewer accidents, but there will always be room for error, especially in the initial period, where there will be mixed driving. In addition, new needs will arise to protect and with them new coverage and guarantees to be developed.
In addition, we must bear in mind that the current road legislation is not adapted to the circulation of a fully autonomous car, so the DGT will also be forced to update its regulations with the arrival of this type of vehicle. Should users take out their driver’s license in order to use autonomous cars? Or will a new compulsory permit arise? This is another one of the big issues that must be resolved.
In short, there is still a long way to go in the world of autonomous cars: they will have to finish developing and testing themselves. But the legislation, the insuring entities and the users themselves must adapt to this new reality. Whether we like it or not it is getting closer and closer.
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