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Autonomous driving. Should you be scared or excited?

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As long as everything is exactly the way I want it, I can be totally flexible. That’s the first sign you are turning into a control freak. The truth is, we can’t control everything. Hurricanes, volcanoes, our family, other road users.

Our hands are not always in control of the steering wheel of life. We should know, we are in the insurance business! Looking to the future, our hands may not even be required to operate the steering wheel in our car.

Say hello to autonomous driving. So what is it? And should you be worried or excited? The trusty car team at Budget Direct Insurance has all the details you might want to know about a potentially driverless future.

1) What is autonomous driving?

In simple terms, autonomous driving simply means that vehicles will be able to drive themselves without human input.

2) That sounds scary!

It can seem so, but it might not actually be. Think about it, there are already trains that function without the need for drivers, while planes have been operating with auto-pilot systems for decades (hush, don’t tell your mother!). So the technology is already there in some way.

Of course, road transportation is a bit more complex, because it involves a lot more interaction with other users that share the same road space. But nevertheless, technologies are being developed towards a future where, one day, drivers may be able to sit back, relax and not actually have to take the wheel when they get into their cars.

3) But why would we want autonomous driving?

Convenience aside, the biggest advantage of autonomous driving is safety. Currently, almost 90% of all traffic accidents on the roads are caused by driver error, and the rationale is, if the human driver is taken out of the equation, the number of traffic accidents will be greatly reduced as a result.

Automation also increases efficiency by regulating traffic flow. Think about it this way: how many times have you experienced slow and heavy traffic because some people just couldn’t help themselves and slow right down on the roads just to gawk at a traffic accident? With autonomous driving, this won’t happen, because robots are not busybodies and won’t slow down just to look at some poor soul who’s been rear-ended.

4) Cool. When can I expect my car to start driving itself?

Not so soon. Autonomous driving technology is jumping ahead -, we are seeing some semi-autonomous features in new cars today. But fully autonomous driving is probably a couple of decades away.

Technology aside, there are also safety and legal issues to be worked out by the relevant authorities around the world, such as legal liabilities in case of any incidents involving fully-autonomous cars. These things will take more than a few years to be ironed out.

In our next post, we take a look at some of the semi-autonomous features you can find in cars available for sale today.

For more car reviews and motoring tips, look out for regular posts in this series.

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