Brace yourself for the automotive transformation. While there is an increased emphasis on fully electric vehicles around the globe, another major shift in the automotive industry is the self-driving cars. Millions are being spent on these cars as Google, Apple and many other tech giants invest heavily to take the lead. But imagine if you are driving a car at 70mph on a rain-lashed motorway, would you cover your eyes? That may sound suicidal but that’s how self-driving may evolve in the near future.
Driverless cars would offer virtual reality headsets to revolutionize your car driving concept. Renault is another competitor in this category that has come up with this gimmick to demonstrate the potential of its self-driving vehicle, the Symbioz. The drivers will be able to wear virtual reality headsets and if they are tired of driving then they can turn their attention to other things. But is this enough to make the driverless technology reliable?
At the moment, even a driverless car designed for fully hands-off driving can hardly fill the driver’s confidence. The problem with these high-tech cars is that a common user would be completely unknown to any issues in these cars. What if these vehicles’ hi-tech system stopped working or the safety driver sensors had to take over?
But for now, most of these vehicles are prototypes, and it may take years before cars like these are ready to go onto the market. There is no doubt that fully autonomous self-driving cars will be a reality but they are not to be confused with assisted driver technologies. We must not get complacent and link the features like automatic braking, collision avoidance systems, cruise control, and lane keeping with fully autonomous vehicles.
It is vital for the drivers to know the clear difference between “hands-on” and “hands-off” driving set-ups. The cars that we drive today are assisted-driver systems. They should be taken as a support to the driver. But overreliance on these systems may increase the risk of driver mistaking it as automated when they are not. There is a clear line of distinction between the two systems; in assisted driving, you are still the captain of the car. And in automated driving, the driver can even get in the back or go to sleep. Drivers must be very clear about it.
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Many other companies are also gearing up for this technology. Tesla’s Autopilot system performs many functions of a fully autonomous machine. Tesla’s car can apply brakes, steer, and accelerate by itself under certain conditions.
Similarly, Volvo and Mercedes have developed these mechanisms on specific models. Audi’s new A8 also offers completely hands-off driving in very specific conditions.
But importantly, none of these cars are designed to be left to on their own. The driver is meant to be in the loop and must be alert to take over at any moment to avoid any untoward incident.
Symbioz and other similar cars will probably be the same as conventional vehicles. But these cars will be stocked with an advanced form of cruise control. Drivers will be able to use it over long distances and motorways. But they would need to turn it on and off.
Driverless taxis are also in line. Google’s sister firm Waymo, ride-hailing firms Lyft and Uber are all working to make driverless cars a reality. Until then, electric vehicles can be the best bet to drive an advanced vehicle that any driver can relish driving. Around 75% of electric car buyers don’t buy electric cars, they prefer to lease it. That is why lease swapping portals are expected to see more of the electric leased cars in the coming years, they are not only cheap to drive but also less expensive to have on lease. People list their electric vehicles on Quitalease as lease buyers are expected to increase.
There is a reason why the conventional and electric cars are still the lease winners. It is because there is an aspect of security risk associated with the modern vehicles with internet connections. If we hand over the control to the computers, there is a risk of the cars being targeted by the hackers. Many vehicles are equipped with internet connectivity to operate navigation systems, entertainment, and to allow them to be unlocked and started remotely using a device.
This poses a security risk to these cars. In 2015, security researchers made headlines when they hacked into the car remotely. They took control of the key functions including brakes and steering. The internet facility makes it easier for the hackers to break in and take control of the car. And this security risk is ignored by most of the vehicle manufacturers. Admitted that it may not be a unique selling point and advertising it may make customers more worried, but it can be attractive for the would-be hackers.
Automated vehicles need to be safe and reliable. Developing a security system will be an overriding benefit to the car makers and it will benefit millions of car drivers safer. More than 90% of the accidents are caused by the human errors, one way or the other. That’s about 1.2 million people who die in traffic accidents. When the cars become more and more automated over the next few years, they will help avoid those incidents. After all, when it comes to driving, human beings are not good enough.