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A FEW years ago, the only cars driving by themselves on the streets are those from sci-fi fantasy movies.

However, the rapid advancement of autonomous technology and machine learning in recent years mean that this is extremely close to becoming a reality.

The race is now on.

Self-driving cars and other autonomous revolutions are gaining speed and will change our everyday lives in a bigger way! Every automobile manufacturer is heavily investing their money on self-driving technology with 2018 seeing many pilot schemes taken onto city roads and highways.

And by the end of this year, we may not all experience being chauffeured around town by AI as we sit in the back and catch up on our social media, but we will definitely be significantly closer than we are today.

Here are trends and predictions that show how autonomous driving will start to become the “norm” this year and in the future!

  1. First Level 5 Autonomous Cars

The progress towards fully autonomous cars has been divided into 5 stages— with level 1 referring to driver assistance functions that are now common in most new vehicles to level 5 which suggests fully self-driving cars that are capable of operating on or off the road, without any human interaction whatsoever.

The level five stage doesn’t exist yet, however, manufacturers such as Toyota, BMW, Renault, and Honda have said that they hope to bring a full level 5 autonomous cars into construction by the year 2020. This only means that it will be highly common to see pilots and trials taking place in 2019.

  1. Autonomous Delivery Truck: Becoming A Reality

Other than just ferrying people around, autonomous driving also promises to bring amazing revolutions to the logistics and haulage industry!

And with the majority of their driving done on relatively easy to navigate highways and straight roads, HGVs and trucks are prime candidates for automation.

Next year, after trials and pilots this year, you will see the Arocs— a semi-autonomous truck from Mercedez Benz that can successfully drive themselves on roads and highways while allowing the driver to only take control and drive in urban environments.

The truck’s system is currently designed to be used by convoys of trucks—taking the lead will be a human-piloted vehicle and the rest are autonomous trucks following its path. It should operate in journeys that involve pre-defined routes, thus route finding is manual, however, the autonomous system is capable of avoiding and recognizing hazards in their path as well as the ability to react to unexpected behavior from other drivers.

  1. First Full Autonomous Coast-To-Coast Trip
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Back in 2015, Delphi engineered the Audi SQ5 which made a 3,400 mile journey from San Francisco to New York. A human co-pilot, however, occasionally took over the controls for safety reasons.

At the end of 2018, a former engineer at Google completed a coast-to-coast rip in a level two autonomous car, without taking control of the vehicle, apparently. Cars at this level, however, still need a human to take control.

The first manufacturer to complete the fully unassisted trip would certainly win— and with the race to bring a smart car to our streets heating up, maybe 2019 will finally be the year we see it happen!

  1. Autonomous Tech in Non-Autonomous Cars

Although autonomous cars are not entirely ready to take over from the manually-driven cars in 2019, it is certain that we will see a lot of autonomous technology like the ones from advanceaccess.co.uk that will eventually enable cars to drive themselves in the more run-of-the-mill cars.

Driver assistance features tech such as lane-switching and automatic acceleration as well as braking that will be progressively available and common in daily automobiles. Furthermore, features that take advantage of AI systems like in-car virtual assistance and augmented reality, should make autonomous driving possible and become increasingly common throughout 2019.

  1. Autonomous Ride Sharing

If you are thinking about your future self owning a self-driving car, then you might be missing the point. The idea is that it will no longer be necessary for most people to own their own car.

In general, owning a car is one of the most expensive investments that an individual or a family can make. So, ride sharing may be the future of transport, particularly for those who live in urban areas.

Last year, Waymo launched its self-driving taxi service in the streets of Phoenix, Arizona. Other players such as Uber, GM and Ford are expected to offer similar services in the near future.

And if all goes according to plan, then this year could be the time we call for a taxi and a car turns up with no one sitting behind the wheel!


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