We’re still quite a way from being able to read a book while the car reliably drives itself, experts say (Picture iStock/metamotorworks)
Safety experts have warned drivers that car makers could be lulling them into a false sense of security. One of the country’s foremost car safety experts believes motor manufacturers are overusing the word ‘autonomous’. As a consequence, drivers are getting the wrong idea about their cars’ capabilities.
Thatcham Research, an independent automotive safety specialist, and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) want car firms to be clearer about what the assisted driving systems on their cars can actually do.
What is the problem?
In the Hollywood blockbuster X-Men franchise, Patrick Stewart plays Professor Charles Xavier, who can read minds to help defeat the bad guys. Now one car maker claims to have developed real mind-reading technology that could help drivers to avoid accidents.
Nissan says it has developed brain-reading technology that not only works but could be fitted to cars within the next five to 10 years. It revealed the innovation at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas.
It means people may one day be able to ‘drive’ their car using little more than their thoughts. Pull on your thinking cap and find out all about ‘brain-to-vehicle’ technology.
What does Nissan know that we don’t?
As long as you’ve got your car key, contactless payments will be possible (Picture © DS Automobiles)
They’re parts of everyday motoring that we’ve taken for granted for years. But very soon we could look at our car key and steering wheel in a completely different light. French car company DS Automobiles has come up with a key that doubles as a payment card. And Jaguar Land Rover is working on a steering wheel that could revolutionise the way we own cars.
How do you pay with a car key?
Google is hoping this driverless car could be the future of motoring. Drivers might have other ideas…
Drivers are struggling to come to terms with driverless cars. Recent research shows that people are suspicious of giving up control of their car and relying on computers.
The studies have been carried out for technology company Continental and insurer Direct Line. These reveal people are struggling to see the real-world benefits in driverless cars. The Continental report claims 37 per cent of people say humans are becoming too reliant on technology. Meanwhile 36 per cent think there are too many risks associated with the technology, such as it being hacked.
The Direct Line study backs this up. It found drivers equally split over whether the roads will be made safer or more dangerous. And a piece of work done on driverless cars reveals that we’re unlikely to reap any real road safety rewards from the technology until every car on the road is driverless. It seems the road towards autonomous vehicles is already a rocky one.
What do we really think of driverless cars?
That familiar feeling of waiting for traffic lights to wake up and turn green could be a thing of the past thanks to new intelligent signals.
Currently the majority of lights on Britain’s roads are programmed to change at timed intervals. And with the number of signals growing from 23,000 in 1994 to 33,000 in 2014, it’s estimated traffic lights add two minutes to every car journey made. Incredibly, that’s calculated to cost the nation’s economy £16bn a year, or one per cent of GDP.
So what can be done about traffic lights and hold-ups? Experts say the answer is a new generation of intelligent traffic light.
Aren’t some traffic lights ‘smart’ already?
This may be what driving is like – one day (Picture © Volvo)
Autonomous cars are just around the corner. Or are they? It’s the tech everyone’s talking about, yet the reality is we know very little about it. And what we do know is confusingly bound up in reams of legislation. So, let’s try to find answers to 10 of the most obvious questions.
What are autonomous cars?
These are cars that use electronics to control the driving process. But there’s a difference between an autonomous or self-driving car and a driverless car. A self-driving car needs a driver at its helm. A driverless car doesn’t. While a driverless car must be self-driving, a self-driving car isn’t always driverless.
Will autonomous cars stop driving for fun?
Tesla has updated the software of its Model S to help resist hacking attempts (Picture © Tesla)
As an acknowledged leader in the field of electric self-driving cars, California-based Tesla is the golden boy of the Golden State. But over the last couple of weeks, dazzling-white smiles have been thin on the ground at the American car maker. Hackers have revealed they could take over a Tesla’s brakes, open the boot and unlock doors, operate the indicators and even move the electrically adjusted seats.
The cyber attack was carried out remotely by Chinese hackers. Tesla has confirmed that it was informed of the vulnerability in its software and systems several weeks ago, and has subsequently issued updated software as a free download to all affected customers.
The American electric car manufacturer worked with Keen Security Lab, which approached Tesla after discovering the weak areas that led to the hack. Keen Security Lab is part of Tencent, one of the giants of China’s booming technology and communications industry.
How was the Tesla Model S ‘hacked’?
Some Volvos now have Pilot Assist which takes complete control at low speeds (Picture © Volvo)
Driverless cars will be a reality within a decade and a proposed new bill that’s part of the Queen’s Speech will pave the way for it. The Queen has revealed legislation that will be introduced to allow driverless cars to be insured with regular policies. The government hopes it will result in cars that are autonomous (control themselves) becoming a common sight by 2025.
Currently, the insurance industry believes 94 per cent of crashes are caused by human error. Driverless cars would cut this figure significantly. Independent organisation Thatcham Research, which works with the insurers to assess how expensive cars are to repair, has put together this timeline on how we’ll move into a world of driverless cars. Continue reading