In 2010, Google announced they were working on a project they called Google driverless car. In essence, they were working to create a self-driving car.
Since then, many automakers, like Nissan and Audi, have announced the work they are also doing to make these cars a reality.
So, how close are we to the reality of purchasing a self-driving automobile?
The driverless car project at Google consists of a test group of ten cars including the Toyota Prius, Audi TT, and Lexus RX450h. The fleet has logged more than 300,000 miles using the self-driving system.
Google’s system is made up of sensors, cameras, and detailed maps that allows the car to create data models and use that information to drive itself. However, the car can be overridden by the driver by tapping on the brakes or turning the steering wheel.
It’s their mission to create a completely driverless system, that can help the elderly or blind, or anyone who would rather be reading a book than driving into the office.
While Google is trying to develop a completely driverless car system, Audi makers prefer the term piloted driving when referring to their system. Their Audi A7 model is loaded with cameras, sensors, and even a device that monitors a driver’s eyes, so in the event that the driver falls asleep at the wheel, the car will slow down, stop, and call for help.
While this system is much like a driverless vehicle, Audi makers state that drivers should remain attentive and engaged so they can take over in the event of something unexpected, like a possible accident.
The Future Impact
Self-driving technology is predicted to be available for the mass market consumers by 2020, with several models available by 2025. This technology could be incredibly beneficial for wheelchair users that aren’t able to use hand controls or aren’t comfortable using hand control technology, but there are still state and federal hurdles that will need to be overcome before these cars can become a reality.
How would this technology improve the lives of wheelchair users? Would you use a driverless wheelchair vehicle? Why or why not?