How the arrival of autonomous cars will change the world

Google Self Driving Car

A car as another “smart” and “connected” device would revolutionize the way we get around, and relieving us of both the burden and responsibility associated with driving. With self-piloted cars, our travel time could otherwise be spent fruitfully pursuing online activities, work, mobile commerce, social media, or simply relaxing.

Google Car, LLC’s autonomous car has a LIDAR vision system on its rooftop and radar on its hood. Real-time sensor data is fed into advanced navigational algorithms that control steering, braking and acceleration to drive the car’s 20-30 kW electric motor without human input. “You can use a phone to tell the car where to go,” according to NPR. The interior seems spacious with no steering wheel or brakes, just seats, a computer screen to show what the car sees, and buttons for the windows, to pull over, or in an emergency, “STOP”.

Driver licenses phased out?

Making a car into a “gadget”/tech product removes the mystique of car ownership. The mastery of driving is replaced by freedom from the onus of performing a demanding chore that has instead been assumed by the gadget. Driver licenses will (likely) be phased out as driving will be limited to aficionados. As Just Energy Ohio points out, today’s young urban dwellers already account for much less fossil fuel usage per capita than they did 25 years ago, because they are already owning fewer cars. Such lifestyle changes will likely accelerate further in coming years.

Attention once required for the act of driving will be unneeded in autonomous cars who become the sole “designated” drivers. All passengers will have new infotainment options, once separate for cars, smartphones and mobiles, now unified as a layer of interactivity with the connected car. Work, social media, and mobile commerce will be commonplace in cars, and even online grocery shopping may become possible with food delivered to the home later by delivery drones.

Our cars and homes communicating

Cars will be able to communicate with other vehicles, objects, infrastructure, and homes. People commuting from work will travel more safely as surrounding cars not directly visible communicate actions of braking and lane changing to one another. Home security systems will automatically be alerted by the car while the home environment such as temperature, lighting, music is readied for the returning occupant.

Driverless cars will eventually be untethered from individual homes or families, but instead be shared among a group, or be part of a pool that becomes available upon need.

Google could launch self driving car within five years

Although a number of automobile manufacturers have incorporated processing and control of sensor data into advanced driver assistive features in current cars on the road, none have shown the integration of these assistive features into the fully driverless functionality that Google demonstrates in its driverless prototype currently being tested on public roads and expects to launch within five years.

If you can not see the embedded video above please use the following link: A First Drive

Director of the Google Self Driving Car project, Chris Urmson, believes that mobile safety is the primary concern in driverless cars. Most tech industry leaders including Peter Sweatman, director of the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute agree that driverless cars will be a revolution in safety. Yet, Wired magazine writes: “As the technologies become more powerful, drivers will have to navigate a new kind of uncanny valley, the potential sense of alienation in being piloted by a ghostly machine. ‘Many people describe this sensation,’ [Stanford Professor Clifford] Nass says. ‘Does the car even know I’m here?'”

When Google helped the state of Nevada in 2011 to draft the first legislation allowing autonomous cars to drive legally on state highways, it was a clear example of technology outpacing the law. It also revealed Google’s limitless ambition, and desire to jump definitively ahead into the newly-created space of the truly self-driving car.