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Driverless Cars Are Here!

Driverless cars, also known as autonomous vehicles (AVs) or robot cars, are beginning to hit city streets en masse. They have been a dream for many ever since the 1930s when science fiction writers introduced the idea.

A Little History…

At the 1939 New York City World’s Fair, General Motors played its part by building a huge future city diorama which, among other advancements, predicted driverless cars and vehicles. This only increase the level of excitement around autonomous transportation, believing that one day it would become a reality.

However, it wasn’t until the 1980s that computer technology advanced enough to begin to make driverless cars a reality. And, no, we aren’t talking just about in the hit movie, Back to the Future…Modern technology has improved by leaps and bounds since then.

Finally, in 2007, a team from Carnegie Mellon succeeded in demonstrating that a driverless car could make a three-point turn in traffic. This has become known as the “Kitty Hawk” moment for autonomous cars, linking it to the beginning of airplane flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

How Do Driverless Cars Work?

Driverless cars move around using a variety of technology, which include a number of  sensors, radar, and GPS tracking to “read” the road ahead of them. Major car and technology companies, most notably Google, have spent billions testing them on roads and in simulations for years, accumulating millions of miles thus far.

Car companies and manufacturers use this testing to gather data to improve the car’s performance. The cars usually operate with a person inside to monitor its performance and to take over controls, if needed. Other cars do drive without a driver, but are controlled remotely, similar to drones.

Advocates of driverless cars claim that they will make driving and transportation much safer. Evidence and research show that driverless cars will help reduce accidents, improve traffic flow, reduce fuel consumption and costs, and even reduce the cost of infrastructure. Driverless cars will also increase mobility for the disabled, the elderly, and children.

However, there is a great deal of concern surrounding driverless or autonomous vehicles. There are still many legal, technological, and regulatory questions and concerns surrounding autonomous cars.

For example, it is not clear yet as to who is liable in an accident involving a driverless car, the company or the other driver? Others are worried that hackers will eventually target cars’ data and computer systems, which are ultimately tied to a driver’s personal information. Workers in the transportation industry, such as delivery drivers, are concerned about losing their jobs. On a more basic level, the idea of giving up control makes some uncomfortable.

It remains to be seen as to how all of the issues will be resolved. Nevertheless, it is clear that driverless vehicles will become an integral part of our future.

The Future of Honda

Although we don’t have all the answers yet, AVs or driverless cars are becoming more of a reality every day. So, this begs the question: What about Honda? Is Honda working on manufacturing their own driverless car model?

In fact, an article published by Forbes in June 2017 explains that Honda is in fact working on their own automated car model. Honda’s new relationship with Waymo, a division of Alphabet, which is one of Google’s partner companies. Honda is targeting 2025 as the year to have driverless systems in their newest models.

Although 2025 may seem like light years away for folks who excitedly await to get into an AV, it is only a little over 6 years away…

May 7th, 2018