FleetDrive 27 - February 2021 - Page 7

Autonomous Cars … when will they go mainstream ?
The technology for driverless cars has been out there for a while , and new steps are finally making this futuristic concept a reality right across the world .
Waymo – formerly the Google self-driving car project – opened a fully driverless service to the general public in Phoenix last October after years of real-world testing . Members of the public are hailing vehicles with no human driver controlling the car – with the technology already helping to drastically improve road safety by removing the human element .
Across 2019 and the first nine months of 2020 Waymo said that it was involved in just 18 crashes and 29 near-misses , across over 9.8 million kilometres of travel . The company said that no one was seriously injured and “ nearly all ” of the collisions were the fault of the other driver . Not a bad effort and a sign of things to come .
Other levels of autonomy remain in development with a variety of manufacturers implementing technology such as the Tesla Autopilot , Cadillac Super Cruise , Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot , and Volvo Pilot Assist .
Tesla founder Elon Mask has claimed in 2020 the manufacturer was “ very close ” to achieving the basic requirement of Level 5 autonomy – which requires no driver input . Tesla ’ s current , Level 2 Autopilot requires the driver to remain alert and ready to act , with hands on the wheel , but it is claimed a future software update could activate Level 5 in the cars with no new hardware required .
The ultimate problem to autonomous cars might come in getting them legalised on public roads across the globe , but Germany has recently drafted new legislation that could see the roll out of self-driving cars by as early as next year .
“ Germany will be the first country in the world to bring autonomous vehicles from its research laboratories onto the road ,” Minister for Transport and Digital Infrastructure Andreas Scheuer said earlier this month .
“ I am very pleased that the cabinet has cleared the way for our law on autonomous driving … The German government aims to bring the laws into regular operation by 2022 , meaning that within 12 months there could be driverless cars operating ,” he added .