Today’s vehicles have a lot of technology in them that we would call driver assist technology. This is the precursor to fully autonomous driving vehicles that completely drive themselves and you around safely from point A to point B. Here are five vehicles that are in or beyond the prototype stage of producing a fully autonomous driving experience.
Tesla Model S 90D
The Model S is not quite an autonomous car…yet. Recently though Tesla unveiled a new software update that will enable the Model S cars to automatically steer, change lanes and even park themselves. Tesla calls this new update ‘autopilot’ because it has capabilities of autopilot but some features will occasionally require input from a human driver, such has putting hands on the steering wheel. The Model S has an entry level price point of $95,300 and a ceiling price point of $133,000.
Google Self-Driving Car Project
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Google’s pioneering foray into the autonomous driving arena. Google has built a prototype vehicle that looks not unlike a clown car. Their vehicle is packed with sensors and software that helps the vehicle to answer four important questions. Where am I? What’s around me? What will happen next? What should I do?
While not available to buy yet and we don’t know the expected price, we are excited for what Google will eventually offer to consumers in this field.
This is Audi’s A7 Sportback piloted driving concept, a fully functioning test vehicle that’s currently running on the German autobahn. While still in development stage and not commercially available yet, Audi has set a release date of sometime during the year 2020. Audi is in fact poised to release this vehicle within the next 2 years, however the legalities of self driving vehicles are causing a delay.
Mercedes Benz F 015
The actual price of the Mercedes Benz F 015 has not yet been revealed by Mercedes, but it is expected to cost around $300,000 to $500,000.
Powered by a hybrid electric fuel cell with the range of 900 kilometers, or about 559 miles, and a battery with a range of about 200 kilometers, or about 124 miles, the luxurious F 015 is uniquely designed with cameras, sensors and displays for monitoring the road ahead.
The interior contains four swiveling lounge chairs that serve as Mercedes’ ideal basis for impact-protected comfort. The self-driving car’s door concept makes getting in and out a cinch, while the seating allows passengers to have comfortable face-to-face conversation.
Expected cost is not known at this time. Self-driving cars are not a thing of the future – the technology is already working today. Despite that, Nissan has tentatively set a release date availability at sometime during the year 2020. This is because infrastructure and legislation need to catch up. Nissan has been working to develop this technology alongside teams from some of the world’s top universities, including MIT, Stanford, Oxford, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Tokyo.
What Does This Mean For The Future Of Autonomous Driving Vehicles?
All of these companies are working hard to bring autonomous driving technology closer to reality and to make it safer. Many of these companies are ready to release their autonomous driverless cars to market by 2017. That is likely not going to happen though. The technology has been so rapidly improving that legislators and law makers are having a difficult time keeping up. Here’s a table that summarizes SAE International’s levels of driving automation for on-road vehicles. With criteria such as is found in that table it’s no wonder lawmakers are taking time to consider things carefully. While California and Texas allow autonomous vehicles on their streets, those are the only two States that have laws allowing that. We just hope that lawmakers don’t take too much longer to enact laws that make autonomous vehicles legal on the rest of our streets.