The evolution of the automobile was relatively short and fast. With every new generation, new and innovative features are being built into our four-wheeled companions – manufacturers built better engines and suspension, more efficient gearboxes and wheels. Recently, the car has taken another evolutionary step by replacing its traditional fossil-fuel-powered engine with an electric one. And the years of innovation have also led to our cars to become smarter than ever.
The addition of CarPlay and similar innovative devices to our cars have made them connected and smart… but not smart enough (just yet) to take over the task of driving for us. While attempts have been repeatedly made, and real-life trials of various autonomous vehicles are underway as we speak, we are still away from them roaming the roads around us.
Keeping in mind that electric self-driving cars are the future, let’s take a look at when experts expect them to be the norm.
Still a decade away
While self-driving vehicle development is in an advanced stage already, there are still many obstacles to overcome before we’ll see them roam the land in large numbers. Automotive reviews expert J.D. Power has completed a market-readiness study about the acceptance of self-driving and electric vehicles that showed that drivers, in general, are not yet confident in the viability and success of the self-driving car. More than two-thirds of the respondents said that they don’t have enough knowledge about the issue, and half of them consider that they would never purchase a self-driving car.
Asked about when she expects self-driving cars to become an option for the general public, J.D. Power executive director Kristin Kolodge told the press that she expects more than a decade to pass until we can actually buy one.
Challenges to overcome
There are already a few technologies out there that we can count as attempts to introduce self-driving vehicles into the everyday circuit – think of Tesla’s “Autopilot”, for example. While at times it has proven useful – like when it saved its driver’s life back in 2016 – it is far from being completely autonomous and safe, as a story about this serious crash shows.
Industry experts are admitting that perfecting self-driving technology is more challenging than they thought – with every problem they overcome, several others emerge, proving that cracking this thing will indeed be harder than expected. And proving that the technology is safe and reliable is just one of them.
There is progress, though
This doesn’t mean there’s no progress being made on the matter. US innovator Locomation is already moving its self-driving trucks from the test tracks to the roads – for now, in “convoy” mode, with a human-driven truck in the front closely followed by several autonomous ones – but its technology’s benefits are already showing. Soon, its example will be followed by many others, and in time, we’ll all be able to sit back and watch a movie while our cars will drive us wherever we want to go.