Autonomous driving is the next ‘big thing’ in the automotive industry. Even more than electric vehicles, it promises to revolutionise personal transportation. But what does it currently consist of? Here are the most high-tech features…
Autonomous driving promises many things, but this is quite frankly one of the most welcomed. Parking into tight spaces, especially parallel spaces, vexes all drivers at some point or another. With spaces becoming harder and harder to find (and cars getting bigger) automatic parking will make an enormous difference. Some systems steer the vehicle and require driver input on the pedals, others handle everything themselves. Most, however, will inform the driver if a space is sufficiently large enough to park in.
Lane-keep assist technologies are becoming increasingly prevalent. More and more models are being fitted with it as a standard feature. It works by providing drivers with warnings when they wander outside of a lane (either via audio or visual cues). The latest versions, however, will actually steer you back into lane; being able to distinguish unintentional actions from intentional ones. However, the technology is heavily reliant on clear and well-maintained road markings. Nevertheless, it’s ideal for drivers on long, monotonous drives where they face boredom and fatigue.
Steering assist is basically limited autopilot or ‘autopilot lite.’ In essence, the car will simply steer the vehicle for the driver in limited capacities and for a short duration of time. You’ll find the feature in a number of premium models, like the Volvo S90 and the BMW 7 series. Applications for this technology vary, but even in its limited form it can provide significant safety benefits. Just don’t expect it to drive you to the shops and back.
This is a relatively new autonomous driving technology, but it’s a useful one. It does what it says on the tin; it identifies signage before a human driver can and relays the information directly to them. Ever wondered what the local speed limit is? Wonder no more, your car will identify it and notify you. Progress is being made in making cars respond to signage i.e. obeying speed limits or coming to a stop. It’s not perfect though, as getting the technology to recognise a plethora of different signs and in different conditions is, as you’d expect, extremely difficult.
Tesla is arguably the furthest ahead in producing an ‘autopilot’ system. The Model S and Model 3, providing they’re fitted with the tech, can seemingly drive themselves. But Tesla clearly doesn’t have total faith in them yet (they stress drivers need to have their hands on the wheel at all times). Either way, Tesla drivers have had their cars drive them to work and back again without much, if any, input. Elon Musk has even claimed that the company will have a million autopilot-led taxis on the roads in around a year’s time. Although he’s been criticised and ridiculed by many a detractor for making the claim. Either way, the tech is falling into place; we just don’t know when you’ll be able to take your hands off of the wheel.
Now here’s an autonomous driving feature we can all get behind. Automakers are already fitting it to millions of vehicles and it’ll undoubtedly save countless lives. The particulars vary between automakers, but the principle remains the same. It works by detecting an imminent frontal collision, alerts the driver, and then appropriately hits the brakes. It’s a truly radical system, as it’ll respond far quicker than a human being can and will also utilise braking technology safely; with little risk of stalls or skidding. As far as we’re concerned, this should be a must for all future vehicles.
Jaguar Land Rover Unveils New ‘Smart Wallet’ Technology: http://autoserve.co.uk/motoring-news/jaguar-smart-wallet-technology/
The Many Reasons Why Driverless Cars Don’t Exist Yet: https://www.autoserveclub.co.uk/blog/the-many-reasons-why-driverless-cars-dont-exist-yet/