According to data from the DGT , currently more than 90% of traffic accidents that occur on our roads are due to human failures . This means that, if we had the key to avoid such errors, most of the more than 2,000 deaths that occurred due to traffic accidents in 2017 could have been avoided. This possibility, a priori unattainable, is closer to what we believe thanks to the Autonomous Vehicles Companies of the automobile world and the appearance of autonomous vehicles , vehicles that are capable of driving independently, without the need for a driver.
We have been hearing about them for years. But when will they be launched? And most importantly … When will they be within our reach? We explain it to you below.
A gradual evolution
For some years now, the big Autonomous Vehicles manufacturers have started to work, in collaboration with the main Autonomous Vehicles Companies , so that the launch of Autonomous Vehicles becomes a reality.
In this sense, it is true that we already find vehicles with some autonomy in the market, especially thanks to advanced driving assistance systems or ADAS ( Advanced Driver Assistance Systems ) such as, for example, the cruise speed control system, the power steering system, the traffic signal recognition system or the lane change assistance. Even some models already have autonomous driving options in very specific conditions such as low speed situations, urban environments …
ADAS systems are the precursors of what will be automated driving, whose introduction will be gradual . And it is that manufacturers ensure that this will be beneficial both for consumers , who can gradually gain confidence and start investing in these types of vehicles, as for manufacturers , who can develop the necessary technology and resolve the defects with which they leave Finding on the go. In addition, in most cases there will continue to be the possibility of disconnecting the automatism of the vehicle and driving it in a traditional way.
It is expected that it will not be until 2025 when we see cars driving by themselves.
Which Autonomous Vehicles Companies are working on it?
Mercedes Benz, Toyota, Nissan, Volvo, Honda Kia, Ford, Citroën, Peugeot, TESLA, Waymo … There is no manufacturer who does not want to join the fashion of Autonomous Vehicles. And it is that they themselves recognize that, although there is still work and technological development ahead, it is an irrevocable future.
It seems that Mercedes took the initiative in this field on April 7 with the launch of the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class , which incorporates innovative systems such as the Drive Pilot , a very complete system that is closest to autonomous driving: It is capable of carrying out operations such as the maintenance of the car in the lane without the intervention of the driver, the maintenance of the programmed speed, of the safety distance with the preceding vehicle, of braking autonomously until the stop, of resuming the march when the car of in front it starts moving … or the Active Lane Change Detector , which allows you to change lanes if we indicate it with the flasher.
Others like Nissan are not far behind, as they have announced that the next model of their traditional Qashqai will be their first vehicle with Piloted Drive technology .
In addition, technology providers such as Apple, Google or Bosch have been developing systems in this sector for years and researching how to offer value services to the user when using the vehicle and not having to drive.
Autonomous Vehicles Pros and Cons
Automated driving will affect the entire car: its propulsion system, the brakes, the steering, the navigation … hence it involves many advantages for the user, which will have virtually nothing to worry about. But, like all devices in their first years of development, it is also true that they have some disadvantages.
Increased safety : a reduction in the number of driving errors and consequently the number of accidents is expected.
Traffic improvement : vehicles will be more efficient in situations of heavy traffic.
Greater energy efficiency: another improvement will be its operation through the electricity grid, so it will save on energy consumption.
Increase in productivity : especially when carrying out some en route tasks, such as parking. The driver can get out of the car and he can autonomously search for a parking lot.
New design and greater power: you will not need all the elements of traditional cars.
Higher price: the first models will logically be of a higher price , so it may take a few years from its launch until they are available to everyone.
Possibility of technological failures: this is the main disadvantage. And, like everything else, the technology is not infallible, so there could be cases of errors in the programming of the vehicle code, entailing a danger that could cause road accidents.
Insurance for autonomous cars and applicable legislation
Another of the brakes on the arrival of autonomous cars is the need to update the applicable legislation while offering current insurance products . Consider, for example, the responsibility that would result in accident cases. Whose fault would it be for a road accident of an autonomous car? From the driver, your insurer, the manufacturer …?
This future forecast is causing, more and more, insurers to seek an adaptation of their business models . It is true that there are fewer accidents with these vehicles, but there will always be a margin of error, especially in the initial period, in which there will be mixed driving. In addition, new needs will arise to protect and with them new coverage and guarantees to develop.
In addition, we must bear in mind that the current road legislation is not adapted to the circulation of a fully autonomous car, so the DGT will also be obliged to update its regulations with the arrival of these types of vehicles. Should users remove their driving license in order to use Autonomous Vehicles? Or will a new mandatory permit arise? This is another of the big issues that must be resolved.
In short, there is still a long way to go in the world of Autonomous Vehicles: they will have to finish developing and testing themselves. But, in addition, the legislation, the insurance companies and the users themselves must adapt to this new reality that, whether we want it or not, is getting closer.
Autonomous Vehicles companies are working hard on autonomous vehicles. We will get the good results in sometime.