Autonomous Cars

Autonomous cars: it's among the hottest automotive news in the present day. Google, in particular, has field tested autonomous vehicles for several years now and the results are quite good.  And Tesla announced that one of their models will perform the first coast to coast self-driving trip in 2017. 

Who has made autonomous cars?
Right now, the two big players in the autonomous vehicle world are Google and Tesla. Each company maintains their own car fleet. 

How They Work
Driverless cars use an array of radars, cameras, high-resolution maps, and special software to "see" the road in front of them, to the sides and behind them. Autonomous cars are operated by motion actuators attached to the steering wheel and pedals. A central computer also pulls together all the data from sensors and internal maps and utilizes it to control the car.

A major problem
Interestingly, the most major issue with self-driving cars isn't a technological issue. The major issue with autonomous vehicles is legal.  Who's going to be responsible when an autonomous car causes, or gets into, an accident?  Is it the car's manufacturer or the person in the car's driver's seat (even if they are not "driving")?  Needless to say, the insurance companies and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and are going to be heavily involved in this.

They perform well
In all of the testing that both Google and Tesla have done so far, driverless cars have proven themselves to not just be just as good as humans at driving, but actually better in many cases. 

When can I get one?
Unfortunately, it will still be half a decade or more before any federal or state agency signs up as the guinea pigs for autonomous vehicles on their roads. Yes, both Google and Tesla's autonomous cars have stellar driving records right now, and yes, they have millions of miles under their belt, but as you're probably aware people are afraid of change, legislators doubly so. 

In the meantime, keep your eyes on this wonderful technology. Thanks to several technology giants and many major automakers, billions of dollars have been put into the research and manufacturing of autonomous cars over the last decade. Get ready for these cars!