If you’re a fan of Transformers (the movie franchise or the good-old comics) like I am, then you must have dreamed about owning an awesome robot-car like Bumblebee or one of his siblings. Come on, a car that drives itself and looks cool? Well, we’re not there yet – with the whole speaking robot technology, I mean – but certain steps have been made and a lot of progress about driverless cars is achieved. People have always been driven by the idea of self-operating mechanisms. When the British made the industrial revolution a reality in the 20th century, the world forever changed. 100 years later we’ve got nano technology implemented in search engines, satellite GPS navigation, radio-controlled army machines, “smart” prosthetic limbs and video-games that look almost photorealistic. What’s next? Electric sheep?
Be sure to read this BIG review of mine “Driverless Cars. Google Cars And All The Other Models Of Self Driving Cars”.
Driverless Cars: Science Fiction-Turned Reality
The future is near, and driverless cars are shaping out to be a big part of it. Back in the 80’s sci-fi movies taught us that technology like this could only be possible in 100-200 years from now, along with flying trains, robots-humanoids, galaxy wars and alien invaders. Well, I guess progress came earlier than we thought, and we have to thank the scientists for that. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not there yet – not even close – but the roots are there, and they’re growing bigger by the minute. Bottom line is, the major of companies involved in this (Google, Toyota, Mercedes, Volvo, Nissan, etc) are set to introduce their auto pilot cars to the public in 2017 – that’s like a year away.
Investing into a completely new field involves huge budgets, countless tries and trials, developments, designs, and lots of work.
I can’t wait to see what the world’s finest can achieve with this promising new endeavor!
Driverless Vehicles: Six Years In The Making
Before we dig in, I just wanna remind you that 6 years ago, when Google first started working on a driverless car, a lot of folks considered this to be a fool’s errand. But, Google would not be what it is today if the staff backed down every time a challenge emerged. They pressed on and on, until after a Google car big players like Toyota and Mercedes decided to join in. Today a car that drives itself it’s not a concept anymore – it’s a reality. Driverless vehicles are cruisin’ down American streets and the tests are showing great results.
To be honest, a bunch of stuff is already pretty heavily automated in the modern-day cars: take GPS, automatic parking, as well as stuff like lane-departure warning, proximity alert, cruise control, automatic air control, and so on. Me personally, I didn’t get a chance to “drive” in one of these things, but I know some folks who did – a couple of testers. They say it’s kinda weird at first, but after you get used to it, you don’t want to get back to the regular thing. Ever! I mean, come on, y’all still do think that technology has the potential to make the world a better place, don’t you? Well, this could be it!
So, what benefits will this amazing new tech have for us? Let’s find out!
Watch on video all the details on How Google Car Without Driver Works
Amazing Fact #1 – No More Traffic Jams
Here’s a typical situation for a modern-day middle-class person’s morning marathon: you have to wake up an hour or two earlier, simply because you can’t afford to be stuck in the traffic. Unfortunately, you’re not the only one who wakes up with the sun rising, and the roads might already be jammed with tons of cars. So, what do you do? First of all, you start cursing heavily, and then you try to sneak through the pile of vehicles, honking every second and never stopping cursing. The thing is, traffic jams like this are usually caused by one man/woman’s error way up at the front which rapidly turns into a traffic disaster that spreads for hours.
The one obvious benefit of us being friends with robots (technology) is that they help us to get rid of simple stupid errors and therefore make our daily routines that much easier and more comfortable. When humans are behind the wheel, they drive a certain way based on rationality and awareness, whereas “smart” cars like Toyota-Google’s Lexus RX 450H make their decisions based on logic – a set of rules that they never bend. Driverless cars are designed to be extremely cautious on the road, and that drastically drops the percentage of errors and significantly reduces the number of road accidents which – ultimately – frees us of the majority of traffic jams. Or, and yeah – if when all switch to autonomous car, the emissions will be significantly reduced, so, another big “Pro” for the driverless automobiles.
Amazing Fact #2 – Even Your 4-Year Old Kid Can Drive
Being behind the wheel makes you feel like you’re control – and that’s an amazing feeling. The ability to go from point A to point B without anybody’s help gives us the illusion of freedom. And even though 95% of disabled folks can work and function like the rest of us, unfortunately, they have to rely heavily on public transport. This makes many lives a lot harder than they should be. And driveless cars are the perfect solution to make it right. They don’t have steering wheels and brakes (simply don’t need ’em) and all you have to do is simply push the button. Furthermore, the smart software in Google’s autonomous vehicles allows them to adapt to all kinds of situations and keep the passenger comfortable and happy: they control temperature, vibration, etc.
Let me tell you about Mr. Steve Mahan: he lost 95 percent of his vision, but he was one of the lucky few to try out this experimental new machine in action. And he was amazed by the possibilities that robots driving cars open up. He also said that they will return him the independence and ease of movement that he once had. Tell me you’re not moved by this man’s story?
I strongly believe that this technology of a car that drives itself will change millions of lives for the better and give disabled people arguably the most important thing in the world – freedom of movement.
Besides, imagine your 4-year old kid behind the wheel. Pretty awesome, huh?
Watch this facinating video about Mercedes’s F 015 Driverless Car from The New York Times:
Amazing Fact #3 – Save Time And Make More Money
I like to travel a lot – it’s one of my hobbies. I love rolling down the roads with the sun shining bright. And the one thing that I hate about traveling is getting lost :). Yep, usually when I’m somewhere new in Europe or Asia (or even right here in the States), I tend to get lost. In this fast-paced age we treasure our time the most, and lost time means lost opportunities for making money. And what could be an enjoyable 5-minute story turns into an hour-long disaster which leads to empty gas tanks and wallets. True, GPS is doing pretty great right now and helps out a lot, but come on, it’s not the ideal thing, now is it? The accuracy is not 100%, and the whole system loves crashing just when you need it the most.
Plus, navigation systems also have this habit of making you circle around a couple of times before showing you the right route. That’s why a lot of folks these days are getting back to pre-2000 routines like buying physical maps! On the other hand, Google-Toyota-Mercedes driverless cars are all about precision: the Google prototype, for example, is packed with a 360 degrees camera, and it can “see” six miles ahead.
Furthermore, it can process hazards, unexpected turns, possible re-routing and a bunch of other stuff in a matter of seconds. That means that with auto driving cars you’ll never get lost and you’ll always be safe, not to mention it could save you a lot of time. All in all, this technology is SO MUCH BETTER than regular GPS-navigation and I’m predicting folks will be in line to get it when it’s out.
Amazing Fact #4 – End Of Douchebags And Return Of Safety
Douchebags are an indivisible part of road trips. Every now and then we have to deal with all kinds of morons causing troubles in traffic. Admittedly, we might even BE a douchebag for other drivers! Well, it’s just the human nature: we may be holding our inner beasts for social purposes, but every now and then we just want to forget about ethics and act like an animal, right? Often we can’t control our emotions and we just loose our cool in otherwise trivial situations. Furthermore, we’ve got parents with little kids, or worse – teenage daughters – in the back acting out. And we have to talk some sense into them, while keeping our eyes on the road, talking on the phone and checking the latest feed in social media. And that’s exactly what causes accidents on the roads with horrible outcomes.
So, say whatever you want about driverless cars, but they most certainly do one thing better than us: they never lose focus on what’s important and put safety first.
So, if you end up owning a smart autonomous vehicle in the future, then you can argue with your kids and talk on the phone all you want – you won’t run any risks of crashing. True, there are still some malfunctions with the tech – sometimes the cars are too cautious, and sometimes too aggressive – but that’s alright. I believe they’ll get it all together at the launch dates.
Amazing Fact #5 – Humans And Robots – Best Buds Forever!
Admit it: you can’t live without technology. I bet you’ve got at least a couple of gadgets that you won’t let go of even if there’s a gun to your head. Smartphones, iPads, PSPs, Notebooks – it’s all a part of our lives these days. We can’t even get out of bed without a phone waking us up! We constantly check for emails, social media updates, weather forecasts…
The bond between humans and technology has never been stronger. And I’m not talking about weird loners stuck in their rooms. I’m talking about us – normal folks with real friends, families, jobs and hobbies. If you ask me, I think this ever-growing influence of technology is only for the best. Unless somewhere along the way Skynet rises and kills us all 🙂
Are you excited about driverless cars? Do you wish you had one right now? Or are you against this whole idea of a self driving car and will never trust a machine with your life? Share your thoughts in the comments!