For most people, the idea of stepping into a car, issuing a location, and then being whisked away on your journey without having to lift a finger or press a pedal, is not an usual one. After all, this happens in taxis, buses, and trains, every day, all over the world.
But what if there is no driver? This is a question that companies like Google and their competitors have been considering very seriously for over a decade.
Figuring out how to make a driverless car was the easy part. Figuring how to implement it on the roads has been somewhat trickier. Making the public trust it though, has been an entirely different story.
Google’s approach on the latter, however, seems to be working. Since 2016, Google’s self-driving tech division, called Waymo, has been inviting the public to join them in their trial runs. This, and lots of publicity, has helped greatly in getting the public used to the idea of being on public roads with no visible driver at the wheel. Both in terms of efficiency, as well as general safety.
A Logical Next Step
In various ways, driver assistance has already been in use for quite some time. Front-crash prevention systems, and lane departure and blind-spot detection, are all fundamental part of driverless technology.
These systems alone have helped reduce forward collisions on the road by up to 27 percent in the US. Improved auto-braking systems have, likewise, been able to effectively reduce rear-end collisions.
In theory, self-driven cars, with cameras and sensors facing in all directions, should have an even greater level of safety, which is so far proving to be just the case.
The Change Has Already Begun
Since 2021, Google’s Wymo has begun operations in the US, most notably in San Francisco, as well as other parts of the world, mainly China. Many economists and industry specialists have predicted a gradually move away from older vehicle types and technology. This will of course mean a drop in car-sales as the world slowly begins to accept the new form of transportation.
The automobile industry will need to adapt, which it has largely has already been doing over time. On all sides though, the goal to reduce the use of fossil fuels, and in turn carbon emissions, is paramount.
The automobile is not the only thing that needs to get ready for big changes though. Society in general is in for the biggest of all. If all goes well, many old problems such as traffic congestion, finding parking, vehicle-based air, and noise pollution, hopefully fuel-shortage, and a host of other issues will gradually become thing of the past.
A Driverless Future Awaits
Big change is not always welcome, and it will likely take some time before driverless cars, Google’s, or anyone else’s, becomes fully accepted and integrated into our daily lives. There are also many legislative and infrastructure hurdles to get past.
One day soon though, we may be sitting back in our cars, reading, catching up on news, or even playing online blackjack real money games and wondering how things could be any different.