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Autonomous Vehicles: The Driverless Fleet of the Future?

The growing role of mobile broadband and data collection in vehicles is part of a broader set of trends, referred to commonly as either the Internet of Things or the Internet of Everything. More and more objects in our daily lives contain sensors, which collect data and share that information to enable new opportunities for efficiency improvements and connectivity features. These can provide benefits to everything from sports teams, businesses and governments, to ordinary people.

These devices could change many aspects of life, from street lamps that adapt to weather conditions, automated motorway signs that report conditions and diversion in real time, and bins that communicate levels of rubbish to allow the optimum routes to be calculated for dustbin lorries. Cisco says that in 2013 such devices generated $600 billion for corporations across the world in profits and predicted that they will be worth $19 trillion in global revenues by 2020.

The auto industry has been quick to adopt this technology, with many recent advances in the last few years, which we discussed in our post ‘The Rise of the Connected Car‘. But this is just the beginning for smart vehicles. Many technologies, currently either in development or being road tested, enable cars to make more and more decisions for themselves, without any input from the driver. This will lead to anything from automatic collision prevention to cars that are able to drive themselves, calculating the safest and fastest route. Some of these features are already in production, while others, such as driverless cars, require more testing and ever legislative changes before they enter the consumer and business markets.

It’s not just about efficiency, however: it’s about improving the experience of driving. Advanced systems assist drivers in difficult situations, help to automatically improve driving styles, and will allow people to do things they would never be able to do on their own, such as determining the route with the least risk drivers.

Eventually, autonomous cars could allow you to call your car to your exact location, enabling you to use driving time for more productive tasks. They could also make their own way to fuelling or recharging stations. Not only this, but they could limit the need for some of the current restrictions on drivers, making a number of traditional safety and behavioural considerations obsolete.

But at the same time, the driver may lose some freedom as their car does more and more of the work. On top of that, new legislation will need to be put in place as the driver loses control over the vehicle.

Will this new technology be worth it? Take a look at our new infographic, all about the assisted and autonomous vehicles, their pro and cons, and barriers to mass adoption.

Road death statistics source:

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