Self-driving cars are not just a theory any longer, they are out on the roads being tested out by several companies, maybe you’ve even seen one of them and didn’t notice. There are currently over 40 companies working on autonomous vehicles (yes, there are other companies besides Tesla that are contributing to the development of driverless cars) and expectations for automatic cars to come into the market are on the rise.
It could still be 20 years before we can drive cars without any driver intervention but there are several companies who feel that it might not actually take that long to do so.
1. Tesla Self-Driving
The main premise of Tesla’s auto-driving cars will be that the driver will not need to touch a thing and their cars will be completely functional without user intervention in autopilot mode.
Thousands of dollars in cameras, supercomputers, in-house software, LIDAR sensors and radar are just a few moving parts of their vehicles that make these cars pricey to manufacture and test, but also very safe.
They have deployed some autopilot models and have over 350,000 pre-orders for their entry-level Model 3 electric vehicle with a surprisingly affordable base price of $35,000.
2. Comma.ai Ghostriding
One of the newest and least experienced but most aggressive companies in the autonomous car niche is Comma.ai. They had planned to get their autonomous cars out on the road by the end of the 2018. They believed that when it comes to autopilot systems, they were ahead of the times.
Unlike Tesla’s strategy, Comma.ai planned to make every car compatible with its technology. The plan was to be selling systems that can be installed aftermarket into common cars like Honda Civics and Acuras and convert them into self-driving cars for around $1000.
Unlike Musk, the owner of Comma.ai George Hotz, planned to market their systems to the general public and keep the technology affordable.
Unfortunately, recently the project came to an end when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent them a letter of concern. Hotz expressed that they will continue to work on other types of technology and systems that won’t be as regulated as those in the traffic industry. You can read more about Hotz letter and change of heart here.
3. Google Self-Driving Car Project
Google has been working on self-driving mechanics for over 7 years. You may have even seen a few working models on the streets of California.
Their testing has revealed that it can tell the difference between cars, cyclists, pedestrians and other objects as well as be aware of stop signs. Google has mentioned that these cars for now, are just meant for educational purposes but perhaps one day, they will bring them into full production if the technology is up to the market standards. Unlike Tesla, they have not released a formal date of release.
4. Toyota Autonomous Cars
Another company that is ready to have their driverless cars ready by the year 2020 is Toyota. They reached a 1 billion dollar budget for auto-driving vehicle research and implementation and have been partnering with University staff professors and researchers from Stanford, MIT and the University of Michigan in hopes to deploy their AI car features quickly and aggressively.
Unlike Tesla’s completely automated driving technology, Toyota’s team wishes to combine machine and human driving (ie, the car will take over and adjust the steering and brakes if it predicts a dangerous situation).
Will This Be a Good Change?
There are several reasons we can look forward to having self-driving cars soon. Accidents caused by human error and distracted driving can be prevented and lives can be saved if we implement autonomous driving technology.
There is also the added benefit of reduced traffic and congestion, parking lot problems and maybe we’ll even have higher speed limits. Picturing a world where we can get to our destinations faster, while having our feet up and reading a book is a path we would like to drive on.