Self Driving Cars? It’s Nothing New

Image credit

There has been an overwhelming amount of discussion on the new technology which makes driverless cars set to become a thing of the future.  Some are in disbelief that we could put our lives in the hands of a machine.  Other believe it could be a great way of making our roads safer.  Whilst the debate is very entertaining, albeit a little frustrating, self driving cars aren’t exactly new.  The industry has been slowly taking away your control without you even realising!

Cruise control isn’t exactly modern tech.  Back in 1788 huge steam engines used to use speed control.  This was first seen adapted to the automobile by Wilson-Pilcher in the 1900’s.  Of course it was terribly primitive back then and it wasn’t really until the 1950’s that the motor industry really saw it feature in cars but by the 1970’s the speed control system started to take off.  Of course it was nothing by today’s standards.  Adaptive speed control is relatively common.  You can set the speed at which you would like to travel on the highway and then sit back and relax a little.  If a car pulls out in front of you, or you should catch up with traffic, the technology will judge the safest distance and bring your speed down to a steady pace until the road ahead is clear, at which point it will take you back up to the set speed.  

It can be quite a strange experience until you get used to it.  Learning to trust that your car might actually be more switched on than you takes time.  Of course every technology, especially the kind that is responsible for looking after your safety, should have a backup system.  In the car, that is you.  Don’t make the mistake of taking your feet away from the pedal controls in your car.  In an emergency it can be very difficult to remember which foot goes where and you might find yourself stomping on your clutch or the accelerator instead of the brake.  Next stop … auto accident lawyer.

ABS and ASR, also known as traction control, is another system most of us rely on if we have a car built in the last decade or too.   It is primarily there to stop you skidding in an emergency situation, meaning you just need to concentrate on hitting the pedal and the car will ensure you come to a controlled stop.  It also helps deliver the right amount of power through each wheel when you are driving on surfaces which may require a delicate balance.

Whilst these are only two elements of the incredible technology that the motor industry have delivered over the years, we think that before you start making a fuss about the danger of self driving cars, you ask yourself how many times your car has let you down when you needed it.  Perhaps you take for granted how much control your car has already and how often you use it to protect yourself and other road uses.