Ford, Audi, Mercedes, Toyota and Volvo have also expressed their interest in developing the technology, as the cost comes down.
Elon Musk, the South African expat billionaire who is CEO and chief product architect of electric vehicle company Tesla Motors, is trying his hand, too, and has made the promise that his company will produce a driverless vehicle within the next three years.
However, his three-year timeline is more ambitious than those set out by other car makers. Analysts say that it will take 10 to 15 years before self-driving cars become a reality. BENEFITS OF AUTONOMOUS DRIVING
the most exciting prospect will be the savings that could be made using driverless delivery vehicles that would cut out the cost of employing drivers.
Not having to concentrate on driving could also make the car yet another extension of the office, opening the possibility of efficient remote working while commuting by road.
fully autonomous vehicle tech- nology has the potential to reduce crashes, ease congestion, improve fuel economy, reduce parking needs, bring mobility to those unable to drive, and dramatically change the nature of travel over time.
Road accidents are one of the top three leading causes of death globally. On average, there are 13 802 fatalities per annum in SA; the estimated cost of these road crashes (per annum) is R307bn, which is 7.8% of SA’s GDP.
Thrun helped build Google’s driverless car, powered by a personal quest to save lives and reduce traffic accidents. As he repeatedly mentions in his TED Talk, the mass adoption of a selfdriving car may lead to more efficient and accident-free roads. SELF-DRIVING TECHNOLOGY EXPLAINED Thrun explained to The Huffington Post in an interview: “The car technology we have been working on at Google uses radar, GPS, cameras, a rapidly spinning Lidar laser, and other devices to navigate properly and understand a complex driving environment.”
Google hopes its driverless cars will reduce traffic accidents by 90%, reduce wasted commute time and energy by 90% and reduce the number of cars on the road by 90%.
Potential benefits are substantial but significant barriers to full implementation and mass-market adoption still remain. Of course, along with individuality, privacy would be sacrificed, since each car or pod would now be a piece of data with its movements constantly being tracked.
Nissan’s Autonomous Drive vehicle