Going Driverless Could Be A Reality In Just A Few Years

The going driverless race is on as car makers and tech companies seek to be the first to have a vehicle safe enough — and legal enough — to be able to take to the roads without need of a driver at the controls. Toyota is the latest company to jump on the driverless bandwagon. As stated by Bloomberg Business on October 6, Toyota Motor Corporation unveiled its driverless concept car to reporters in the form of an adapted Lexus GS sedan.

“Its ‘highway teammate’ concept car, a modified Lexus GS sedan, pulled off automated feats including entering public expressways, switching lanes and steering to the off ramp, all while picking spots to speed up or slow down based on the surrounding traffic.”

Toyota suppliers, including Denso Corporation, have teamed with Toyota to develop the Lexus GS driverless car. Toyota Motor Corporation has not detailed if their first driverless vehicle will be a Lexus or a Toyota. They have stated that they aim to have the first cars ready for going driverless on the highway ready for release sometime around 2020.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx recently visited the Frankfurt Auto Show. Driverless Car Market Watch quoted an interview statement Foxx made in German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

“He stated that he is very optimistic with respect to driverless cars and expects to see them in use everywhere in the world within 10 years. He wants to accelerate the process for the introduction of new technologies such as self-driving cars and avoid the current legislative delays of five or six years. Of course, safety must always be assured.”

Driverless cars are looking to be a reality for the not-so-distant future with companies such as Audi forecasting their driverless vehicles to be road ready as early as 2017. Motoring.com.au reports that Stefan Moser, the Head of Product and Technology Communications for Audi, has stated how the upcoming Audi A8, due to debut in 2017, will be totally and fully self-sufficient as a complete driverless vehicle without depending on a human driver whose attention can get diverted from the road. Moser stated that “Audi wants to be first to market with a self-driving car.” He specifically remarked about how well Audi’s autonomous car technology already works and now it will be a waiting game until legislation can meet up to where the technology is in order to place vehicles on the road.

Delphi test drove their driverless car in a successful almost 3,400 journey from San Francisco, California, ending in New York City in April, 2015. The Audi, known as Roadrunner, is said to have performed “exceptionally well” during its nine-day, cross-country drive. The Roadrunner was taken through many different road conditions during its journey including “mountains, heat, traffic jams, trucks, road construction, and even tumbleweed.”

Tech companies are joining the car industry in the competition to be the first and best to be going driverless. Google has its own driverless scheme in motion with the Google Self-Driving Car Project. As explained on the website “We’ve taught our cars to navigate through many complicated scenarios on city streets.” The site continues, “Our cars use their sensors and software to sense objects like pedestrians, cyclists, vehicles and more, and are designed to safely drive around them.”

Justin Sullivan/ Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/ Getty Images

The driverless technology has somewhat begun to be used in vehicles now being sold with self-parking abilities aided by driver assistance. There are questions about who is to be responsible in the case of driverless car accidents. In response to this question, and in an effort to speed up the process of getting tough regulations in the United States passed, makers are saying that they will take full responsibility. Volvo, Google, and Mercedes are all ready to accept responsibility for accidents in vehicles that they sell that will be going driverless.

[Featured image credit Spencer Platt/ Getty Images]