With Jaguar’s recent announcement that they will be creating a fleet of more than 100 autonomous research vehicles over the next four years, Appreciating Assets decided it was time to delve deeper into the dark art of self-driving cars.
Self-driving Leaders in the UK
Jaguar will start trials with vehicles on a 41-mile route later this year. Other car-makers are already spending billions of pounds on autonomous technology, with Ford part of a government-sanctioned testing project in England, and Volvo planning to test driverless cars in London next year.
Nissan also aims to build its first mass-market vehicle featuring ProPilot technology at the its plant in Sunderland in 2017. While BMW have recently announced plans to start producing fully autonomous vehicles by 2021 for ride-sharing programs.
Britain is hoping to be at the forefront of autonomous driving, partly due to a legal loophole. The UK is one of the European countries not to have ratified the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic that stipulates a driver must be in the front seat of a car. However, the government is still working on its own regulation to keep pace with changing technology.
In the UK more than half of new cars now sold feature varying forms of autonomous safety.
Google Fast on Tesla’s Heels
In America, Tesla seems to be conceding to battle calls for the disabling of their Autopilot feature after a few recent incidents. With 94% of traffic fatalities the fault of drivers in the U.S. in 2015, it seems unfair and the easy option to blame technology that still requires common sense when being used.
The latest Tesla X 60D is a seven-seat electric SUV priced from £64,100, Autopilot is a £2,200 option and will surely be popular as customers embrace the exciting technology which will be vital to resale values. Up to now, Tesla have enjoyed strong market share but it’s clear to see those days are numbered as all major manufacturers have vehicles in development.
Google is the company people are following with most interest. The company’s fleet of around 25 fully autonomous vehicles log 10,000 to 15,000 miles each week and have covered well over 1 million miles already.
The possibilities are very exciting, as Google themselves say ‘Imagine if everyone could get around easily and safely, regardless of their ability to drive. Ageing or visually impaired loved ones wouldn’t have to give up their independence. Time spent commuting could be time spent doing what you want to do.’
Impact on the Car Market
Autonomous driving is certainly something that could change the lives of those less fortunate or that struggle with mobility to be able to drive. Whether or not we will find ourselves at auctions in 50 years cooing over classic examples of these cars it’s hard to say so right now, I will stick to driving my classic car.
About the Author: Tim Hutton has been involved in the automotive industry for 17 years, creating ideas and content for premium brands. When not writing about cars, you will find him driving them all around the world. Having learned to drive at seven in a racing car, petrol is very much in his veins.