What does the future hold? It’s one of life’s great mysteries, but for petrolheads the good news is that there are always new models of car coming on to the market, giving us something to read about, watch on TV, and try to get a turn behind the wheel of.
But one development might stop us from doing the last of those things, because the ‘car of the future’ may ultimately not need a driver at all.
That sadly doesn’t mean we can expect to see a vehicle like Total Recall’s Johnny Cab taking to the streets anytime soon – and a plastic chauffeur probably isn’t in the works at all – but it might mean that in the years to come, we will all be passengers.
While we might never see an android chauffeur in the robotics sense, we might see an Android chauffeur – that is, one that runs on the Google-owned operating system.
Google Chauffeur is an initiative that aims to develop a driverless car, able to follow a route safely and at good speed, and some US states are already passing laws to allow these vehicles on to their roads.
In the summer of 2014, Google unveiled a fully driverless prototype which didn’t even have a steering wheel, accelerator or brake pedal – and there’s good reasons for this.
During testing of Google Chauffeur prototypes, the only recorded accidents and incidents have been caused by human drivers either crashing the car in manual mode, or driving into it in a ‘normal’ car.
Perhaps it is little wonder, then, that Google are keen to remove the manual controls completely!
The Driverless Car of the Future
Where is it all heading? Will the car of the future be like monorails are, shuttling passengers from place to place without necessarily needing anyone at the wheel?
The likely answer is ‘yes’, even though it might still feel like science fiction to many of us at the moment.
A good example is the Lexus 2054, better known to most people as the car from Minority Report; the sheer scale of the high-speed road network in the film may never be reached, but the car itself is not completely out of the question.
Equipped with security systems and anti-crash features, the self-drive Lexus 2054 was a key part of the visual design of the movie, and of the central car chase scene, but for petrolheads it is also a beacon of future potential – something we may see on our roads within our lifetimes.
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