FullSelfDrive - Today's technology or wishful thinking - a driverless car taking your kid to school
OK ladies…can you imagine having your own private driver? To take you to work in the morning, while you get over e-mails or catch up over the phone with your friends? Or to drop your children to school or to soccer practice? And the best thing…no pressure for weird small talk and which drives better and safer than any race pilot…sounds futuristic but its actually today’s technology.
Self-driving cars, are a vision many manufacturers display but little has been done to deploy it mass market. Believe it or not in 1939 was the first self driving car presented at World's Fair, when General Motors created the first self-driving car model. It even turned into reality in 1958, as in the dawn of the space battle – the space agencies needed vehicles to navigate alone on the moon before sending people there. As computers were weighing more than a ton back then – this car and the ones that followed were not equipped with computers but with many cameras and sensors to be able to keep a straight path.
The improvement continued and much research was made – many models were created ( especially by the US department of Defense to be used in battle) but none has reached the market.
By mid 2010 there was a competition between car manufacturers as well as Uber to launch the 1st self driving model, which was considered much easier than it proved to be.
Up to this day many self driving features are included into cars on the market as ‘’driving assistants’’ : keeping the speed, keeping the lane, keeping the distance vs the front auto, while reaching Full Self Driving ( FSD) was in most cases abandoned due to lack of data, too costly resources, or even lawsuits. Tesla is the only company fully behind the Self Driving with enough data, know how and cashflow to continue this quest.
The levels of automation are labeled by an international organization from 0 to 5 grading how independently they can steer the car . Level 0 is about issuing warnings but no capacity to react in any way, while level 5 is when the steering wheel becomes optional and no human is required behind it.
Currently Tesla follows regulations in different countries and sells cars on Level 2 which means ‘’hands off’’ but the driver is still required to stay behind and attentive, although the company claims the FSD Beta testing they are running now is making the car reach Level 4 - ‘’mind off’’ which would even allow a good power nap while the car is autonomously driving.
With the abundance of data the company is gathering from the millions of cars they have on the roads, it will have a clear advantage to other companies who would follow. The biggest challenge remains still the regulations, the unpredictability of other drivers and the people trusting in machines with their lives.
How about you? Would you trust to jump in an FSD Level 4 car enough to take a short nap?