Transportation is on the cusp of a revolution, the like of which we haven’t seen since we stopped using horses to pull passengers and freight over a hundred years ago. Because the dawn of the autonomous – or self-driving – car is almost upon us. And it will be here sooner than you think.
Self-driving cars are merely the next step in the technical progression that carmakers have embraced over the last few decades. Features such as adaptive cruise control, lane assist, blind spot detection, city emergency braking and park assist technology all show how our cars are now highly advanced machines.
The building blocks – the software systems, the cameras and radar sensors – are already fitted to an increasing number of cars that are already on the market. The next step is to link all this technology together with more powerful onboard computing systems and allow them to take control of a car on the public highway.
Preparation for this stage is already well advanced, with a prototype city car supported by Shell recently being put through its paces at last year’s Shell Eco Marathon, held at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.
The technology inside the car has been developed by scientists at the Mobile Robotics Group at Oxford University, who are using sensors around the car and enough computing power to enable the car to drive itself around a set course.
Although technology such as the Autopilot feature on Tesla models is already on public roads, there’s still some way to go before self-driving cars are commonplace – let alone comprising the majority of vehicles on the road.
But Shell is already looking to the future of fleet by supporting the development of autonomous technology.
The revolution is coming.