Driverless cars may be far closer to becoming reality than is generalised realised according to new research by MoneySupermarket.com.
Eight major global players are all competing to take this developing industry by storm, with Mercedes set to win the race to be first to market with a driverless S-Class set to be made available later this year. The Mercedes solution will be capable operating without driver input at speeds of up to 25mph, which will allow drivers to avoid tedious and stressful inner city driving. This will be very similar to the Volvo system which will be made available to the public from 2014.
Going to the next level
However, General Motors are going to take the industry onto the next level in 2015 when they release driverless cars which are able to park themselves and also pick their owners.
The time and location for the pick-up will be communicated to the car via a smart phone app. The availability of these only rests on governments amending motoring legislations so that driverless vehicles are permitted, but the technology is a reality.
All of these solutions have been kept relatively quiet compared to the Google solution, which has grabbed news headlines and forced a number of states in America to amend regulations regarding the use of driverless vehicles. So far Google’s modified Toyota Prius has completed 140,000 error free miles. The only on the road incident it has been involved in was when it was crashed into from behind by a motorist while stationary at traffic lights.
Despite all of the fanfare around it, the Google solution will not be made available to the general public until 2016 at the earliest. This will make it the fourth major company to market at best.
However, there are still a number of question marks regarding how Google are planning on making its driverless technology available. Will they sell this as standalone piece of equipment which can be added onto existing vehicle? Or will they team up with a car manufacturer and offer an exclusive supply deal?
The first of these options would certainly be the most exciting for motorists and would certainly speed up the adoption of driverless vehicles. However, it remains to be seen whether or not this would be viable.
Impact on car insurance
Driverless car testing carried out by Google has proved the reliability of the technology and highlighted that there might actually be fewer road accidents if everyone adopted them. The fewer accidents there are on the roads, the fewer pay-outs insurance companies will be obliged to obligate from claims made.
This of course will mean that insurance companies will be able to offer cheaper car insurance premiums to all drivers; significantly reduce the cost of motoring particularly for young and newly qualified drivers.
MoneySupermarket has put together an infographic summarising the current state of the market and giving a bit of background about its origins:
Image source: MoneySupermarket Car Insurance