Are You Ready for Driverless Cars?


Many automotive companies are in development stages of these new autonomous vehicles—and there are good reasons for it, including fewer traffic accidents and improved fuel efficiency and emissions. Here’s some predictions of the future:

  • By 2027 many people will be using autonomous vehicles;
  • By 2037 virtual chauffeurs will be driving most cars;
  • By 2047 steering wheels and gasoline will be prohibited; and
  • By 2057 there will be zero accidents and zero road deaths.

But 2057 is a long way off and there is still a lot of work to be done before autonomous vehicles are commonplace on highways. The automotive industry is getting closer, however, and several pilot programs are already being tested. So the question is this: when will self-driving cars be available?

Starting with a Challenge

An event known as the Urban Challenge, which was organized by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), took place on November 3, 2007 and is considered groundbreaking in terms of the development of autonomous vehicles. The teams competing in the Urban Challenge Event were required to build an autonomous vehicle that would complete a complex 60-mile urban course with live traffic in less than six hours. The vehicles had to be able to merge, pass and park, among other driving-related activities.

Now, ten years since the challenge, the automotive industry has continued to research and develop innovative technologies that will help bring self-driving cars into the mainstream.

A Closer Look at the Glass

The automotive industry is moving more and more toward self-driving vehicles, but what does this mean for the glass in the cars of the future? Today, for example, while there are many opportunities for augmented reality there are concerns when it comes to applying that technology to a windshield. This is because driver’s view would be blocked. In the future, this will not be a concern with driverless cars.

You might think that since no one needs to see out of a driverless car, does it even need a windshield—or any glass for that matter? After all, in these vehicles, the passengers are just along for the ride and don’t need to see what’s going on around them or pay attention to other vehicles and traffic conditions.

Could all-glass cars be something of the future? Photo credit: Michael Robinson, ED Design srl

 

While that may be true, there’s another, more enticing option that creates many new opportunities for you and your car—and it involves lots of glass. What if the windshield became a dynamic, interactive feature of the vehicle? Think about this: what if your vehicle could become an extension of your living room? Imagine your vehicle is sheathed in glass, but not just any glass. This glass is equipped with digital connectivity that brings all of the electronic comforts of your home interiors into your car. With these advancements you could view outside when you want to, and then transform the glass into, for example, a movie screen or video game. It can become an interactive screen that provides a variety of user experience activities. Imagine, watching movies on the glass or checking social media on the windshield while riding in your car. And when you’re ready to take a break from all that screen time, the glass can easily transition to clear, allowing you to look out at the scenery around you.

When Will Self-Driving Cars be Available?

A number of automobile manufacturers already developing driverless cars, and some cities have begun testing programs. Last spring, for example, Uber tested a self-driving car program in Pittsburgh, and in December 2017 Lyft announced its own self-driving car pilot program in Boston. Lyft is also partnering with Ford on the development of a self-driving vehicle.

There are also a number of manufacturers getting on board. Many of them you’ve most likely heard of, such as BMW, General Motors and Tesla. In 2014 the Swedish automaker Volvo announced plans to kick off its Drive Me project, which would put 100 self-driving Volvos on public roads in everyday driving conditions by 2017. That has now been pushed to 2021.

Cars Become Increasingly High-Tech

It’s not just the automotive companies; tech companies are also getting involved. A company called Waymo, for example, started out as the Google self-driving car project in 2009. In 2015, the company completed what was the first fully self-driving trip on public roads in a vehicle without a steering wheel, foot pedal or test driver on board.

In addition, researchers at Apple are also working on their own version of driverless cars that will be able to detect cyclists and pedestrians.

Technology is also evolving in terms of how the vehicles will operate. For example, today’s self-driving cars use cameras and radar devices as the “eyes” of the vehicle. Technologies, however, are being developed that will enable what’s known as vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communication, which will allow the cars on the roads to essentially talk to each other. V2V will allow cars to share their information such as location, direction and speed.

Sit Back, Relax and Enjoy the Autonomous Ride

While we may still be in the very early days of making self-driving cars a reality, these cars are coming in the future, and will offer a number of benefits. Roads will be safer, traffic and fuel efficiency will be improved and passengers will enjoy more free time. Not only will you be able to check in on social media with ease, you may even be able to do it right on the glass that surrounds you. The future of digital glass will provide many new opportunities that will make car travel much more enjoyable.

And when the time comes that you find yourself in need of glass and glazing guidance and product queries, Glass.com® can help. We can connect you with qualified service experts and technicians right in your area that can assist you with all of your glass repair and replacement needs.

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