5 Questions You Have About Self Driving Cars Answered
The self driving car is no longer a sci-fi concept; they’re real and will likely cruise along a road near you. These vehicles, however, remain shrouded in mystery. You probably hear the occasional tidbit about self driving cars, perhaps seeing them in YouTube videos or news segments. But many questions regarding these futuristic rides linger in the minds of the public. You too may have some questions. Aside from the numerous speculations, rumours, and chatter taking place in the industry right now, it’s safe to say there are some questions held by general population, when discussing self driving cars.
Are Self Driving Cars Commercially Available?
In short, yes. Rushing to a dealership showroom, though, will leave you feeling disappointed. Apart from the concept cars you’ve seen on T.V. or online, the only self driving vehicles available for commercial use are open-air shuttles with a top speed of 20.1 Km/h (12.5 miles per hour), with limited service to pedestrian zones. Demonstrations of autonomic cars on the road haven’t been staged, however, and what you’ve seen so far are prototypes. You just couldn’t drive away in one (or sit back in one) at this time. With that said, the wait for these before is dwindling; approximately five years remain before self driving cars hit Canadian roads, and it will go by fast.
How Much Will a Self Driving Car Likely Cost
If you’re bent on buying a self driving car, start saving now. The price tag of a self driving Toyota Prius – one driven by the visually-impaired Steve Mahan – sits at $325,000, a cost higher than a Ferrari 599. The assortment of visual and radar sensors, and GPS technology along with embedded software contribute to the tremendous cost. It’s hard to say what all self driving vehicles will amount to since features, car make and manufacturer will come into play. But you can bet most of these cars will start at inaccessible prices for the average consumer.
Who Are the Major Players/Brands Entering the Self Driving Market?
Here’s where things get interesting. To say which auto brands are entering the market would understate the mass migration of companies looking to cash in on this movement. Sure, you’ve got the car brands that we’ve all come to know since childhood. But there’s a slew of companies who have no dealings with the auto industry, looking to put their own self driving vehicles on the road. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Non-Automotive Brands Developing Self Driving Cars
- Google – The most well-known example of a non-automotive company in the self driving market is Google. However, there entrance into the field isn’t strange. Since they are a tech megagiant, one who happens to work with artificial intelligence (Google is pretty smart at AI), it makes sense that they would want to experiment with a self driving car. Google recently announced news that their latest prototype is fully functional.
- Apple – The next big tech monster, Apple, is apparently working on a self-driving car as well. But it’s vital to emphasize that this is speculation. So far, there have been reports of Apple employees working on an electric vehicle codenamed “Project Titan”, which many insiders have speculated to be the company’s attempt at a self driving car.
Apart from tech companies, you can expect to see these vehicles from several big auto brands.
List of Car Brands Confirmed or Speculated to Release Self Driving Cars
- General Motors
Will There be a Push to Make All Cars Driverless?
If you’ve really been following the industry news, you may have seen headlines that make some pretty bold predictions. For example, a Huffington Post published last summer detailed an analyst’s predictions about self driving cars becoming the norm by the next decade, aptly titled, “Everyone Will Have Self-Driving Car By 2026, Analyst Says”. Another article posted on the Car Talk blog, titled, “By 2035 Most Cars Will Drive Themselves, and by 2040 Forget About a Driver’s License”. These article headlines reflect the expectations of experts in the auto and tech industry. So it’s natural to wonder if the cars that require drivers will go extinct.
It would definitely seem that there’s a push for a future where autonomous cars are the norm. Automakers and transportation experts are convinced these vehicles will lead to improvements in traffic flow and safety. With that said, there will always be those who prefer to drive their own cars, so it’s highly unlikely we will see a future where only self driving vehicles roam the roads
Who Will Assume Responsibility in the Event of an Accident?
And now it’s time to address the biggest question on the minds of many people. Who assumes responsibility if a self driving car gets into an accident? Whether the uncertainty behind this question encourages or deters people from buying this car has yet to be seen. Naturally, many people will blame the car itself if it crashes or collides with another. But remember, it’s a machine. In essence, it’s a robot, and robots can’t face any penalties except a decommissioning. Then again, some people may put the blame on the manufacturers, citing a defect or glitch is their fault.
The argument can even take a third angle. If a self driving car allows its driver (or passenger?) to take over when its functions fail, will the one behind the wheel assume responsibility? An individual could easily argue that they didn’t have enough time to react, put the blame back on the car itself. As you can see, determining who’s at fault in the event of an accident will be a tricky task for lawmakers to figure out, and it’s one they can’t answer until these vehicles are actually on the road.
Questions, Questions, Questions
There will be many more questions from the general public regarding the self driving car. You too will have your own. The prospect of these automated vehicles soon driving us from point A to B, a concept once exclusive to science fiction, is one that has gone from a “possibility” to an attraction “coming soon”. And now that they’re coming to fruition so fast, there’s a lot of mystery surrounding their development. Many of these questions will remain unanswered for years. Until then, it’s best to keep your eyes on the latest news from the world of autonomous cars, and the musings of automotive and tech experts.