It's among the hottest automotive news today: driverless, autonomous cars are here.   Thanks to several tech giants and many of the major automakers, billions of dollars have been fed into the research and development of autonomous cars over the last decade or so. Google, in particular, has been field testing autonomous vehicle for several years now and the results are quite good. And Tesla has announced that one of their models will perform the first coast to coast autonomous trip in 2017. Yup, they are here.

How Do They Work?

Lots of technology as explains. Driverless cars use an array of cameras, radars, high-resolution maps, and specialized software to "see" the road in front of them, behind them, and to the sides. Driven by motion actuators attached to the steering wheel and pedals, autonomous cars are controlled by a central computer that integrates all the data from sensors and internal maps and uses it to control the motions of the vehicle.

Who's doing it?

Right now, the two biggest players in the autonomous car space are Google and Tesla. Each company maintains their own fleet of cars that were modified to become self-driving. Google is so confident in their autonomous technology that they have actually removed the steering wheel and pedals in their latest models, removing a driver's ability to interfere with their system while underway.

How good are they now?

In all of the testing that both Google and Tesla have run to date, driverless cars have proven themselves to not only be just as good as people at driving, but actually better in many cases. For example, their accident rate is lower than human's, and in all the cases to date where the autonomous cars did have an accident, it happened to be the fault of another car hitting the autonomous car from the side or behind.

A major issue

The major issue with autonomous cars is going to be legal. Who is going to be responsible if an autonomous car causes, or gets into, an accident? Is it the manufacturer of the car or the person in the car (even if they aren't "driving")? Needless to say, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the nation's insurance companies are going to be quite involved in discussions involving this sort of thing. As you might imagine, adoption of driverless technology may take quite a while, as all these issues are sorted out.

So when do I get to buy one?

Don't start planning just yet. It's still going to be half a decade or more before any federal or state agency signs themselves up as the guinea pigs for autonomous vehicles on their roads. Yes, both Google and Tesla's self-driving cars have stellar driving records for the time being, and yes, they have millions of miles under their belt but you know… people fear change, legislators doubly so.

In the meantime, keep your eyes on this amazing technology. Driverless cars are everything that comes to mind when you think about "the future" and it will be here soon.

Article Courtesy of: Brown Daub Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram

Image Source: Google Images