Sunday 7 December 2014

Blog: Fasten your seatbelts! Take a greener ride

Blog: Fasten your seatbelts! Take a greener ride

It looks like something that’s been taken straight out of a Disney film!

Two very inviting wide eyes, a cute black nose and a mysterious half smile. It was love at first sight, as they say, for me - Google's driverless car!

I’m sure we all have, at some point, wished we could be in Lewis Hamilton’s driving seat while watching F1.

And many people I know have done just that – in a motorsport simulator at a fair, of course! Going through a similar experience without actually having to show off their driving skills.

Google may now have turned the idea it into reality, as we are going to have the first autonomous car trials hitting the streets of Britain in four cities next month!

The idea may feel a bit sci-fi for some - but the Government has pledged to provide an extra £9 million for “driverless car testbeds” on top of the £10 million already announced.

So how does it actually work?

The car will take direction from a smartphone app, pick you up and automatically drive to the destination you selected. A driver "interface" at the front will allow you to see where the car is going. (In the past we called these windscreens!).

The trials will investigate whether driverless cars can reduce congestion and make roads safer while also assessing the public's reaction to the new technology. The tests will last between 18 and 36 months and will help us understand the role driverless cars could play in real-world environments.

But is it sensible to swap man for machine behind the wheel?

Well, industry experts certainly appear to think so. The driverless vehicles have the potential to communicate with the cloud to locate accidents, road congestion and automatically re-route and even “talk” wirelessly to traffic lights as well as regulate the speed of the car.

Where’s the energy aspect in all of this, you ask?

Well, it’s hoped the car will reduce fuel usage and therefore the dirty emissions, which means it would be a greener option too!

So yes, autonomous vehicles maybe good for the environment, could make us more productive, potentially revolutionise road transport and may have the power to profoundly change our lives.

Perhaps in a decade or so we will see them on the streets - I wonder if they will be taught how to argue with the traffic wardens ?

Written by

Bruna Pinhoni

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