Self driving cars are the future but they are also the present. Tesla have updated all of their Model S electric cars with an Autopilot Mode so that they can steer themselves and many conventional gas-guzzlers like Ford and Volvo have been testing a range of driver-assistant and driver-replacement technologies for a while.
You know why? Because they’re just better at the whole driving lark than you are. After doing 1.7 million miles on the road, Google’s own experimental self-driving cars have only been in 11 accidents in six years – none of which, they say, were the car’s fault. Seven involved another vehicle rear-ending the Google car, two were sideswipes, and one involved another car jumping a red light.
Here are three ways everyday cars are now able to drive themselves.
- Automatic parking assistant
Parallel parking can be a pain in the bumper at the best of times, but if Ford’s new Active Park Assist technology is anything to go by, manually attempting to swing your car into those tiny gaps at the side of the road will soon be a thing of the past. Now, the car can take complete control at the crucial time, making computerised inputs to the steering wheel to ensure you achieve a perfect park.
Enjoy a city brake
The hustle and bustle of a city street is an incredibly tough environment to spot potential hazards because there’s simply so many things that you have to look out for. However, manufacturers are installing City Safety technology on vehicles, which monitors the road ahead and, if it is decided the driver will not stop in time to avoid a collision, automatically applies the brakes. This technology, originally piloted by Volvo, can work at speeds of up to 30mph; perfect for driving in urban areas.
- Adaptive cruise control
Cruise control is fitted to most high-end cars today, in which the driver lets the car’s on-board computer assume responsibility for maintaining a preset speed. This enables the driver to remove their foot from the accelerator pedal. However, the next generation of this technology is adaptive cruise control, where the car automatically adjusts its speed to maintain a specific distance from the vehicle in front.