Imagine the scene: you’re running late for work and haven’t finished eating your toast yet. Dashing out of the house and jumping into the car, you start the engine and…sit back, finish eating your toast and maybe even read the paper – all the while, you’re heading to work.
Unless you’re having one of those dreams where your mind tricks you into thinking you’re up and about starting your long day ahead while it fits in a few more precious minutes of the sleep cycle, you might not think that such a thing was possible. But with the emergence of the driverless car – currently being piloted by some major car companies alongside tech giants like Google – the dream might soon become a reality.
In fact, extended testing is already underway in three US states – Florida, California and Nevada; the latter of which is where the first round of testing took place with a view to introducing the technology at one of the state’s annual consumer fairs like CES or the Las Vegas Auto Show. The laws currently insist that test cars contain two crew members: a front passenger and, for want of a better term, a “driver” in the front seat in case of mechanical failure.
As promising as the tests have been in the States, however, the trend doesn’t look like making its way across the pond just yet. The Geneva Motor Show began yesterday but according to a report by Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, it won’t be featuring this tech in 2013 as they don’t “feel the trend”, focussing instead on green vehicles.
Aside from the miles of red tape which we haven’t even begun to sort through, if driverless cars were to be tested in Europe, one would have to take into account the differences between the types of road one would find over here; with vast distances between major cities in the US, the quickest way between them is straight through. However, the more traditional layout of European roads – with all the sprawling side streets and smaller motorways – would require extremely rigorous testing before it can be decided whether or not this tech can cope; making it years, if not decades, before we would see the first driverless car in a European showroom.