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Driverless cars to transform car sharing

Most motorists are now aware that driverless or autonomous cars are coming down the line. The cars are already being trialled both in the UK and US and big motor manufacturers have joined Google in testing out the technology. The Google car has covered hundreds of thousands of miles without incident and it is this safety aspect of the driverless car that is attracting most of the attention.

Most motorists are now aware that driverless or autonomous cars are coming down the line. The cars are already being trialled both in the UK and US and big motor manufacturers have joined Google in testing out the technology. The Google car has covered hundreds of thousands of miles without incident and it is this safety aspect of the driverless car that is attracting most of the attention. The car uses various technologies, such as radar, laser and cameras to see the road ahead and sophisticated software is programmed to identify potential threats. The cars can also communicate with each other and therefore exchange information on potential obstacles or traffic conditions which would be out of sight of a human driver. The cars can also react much faster than a human driver and are programmed to always take the most appropriate action, whereas the human driver may make poor choices when stressed.

All of these factors contribute to making the driverless car a really exciting prospect for road safety but it ignores great potential for these cars in other areas. Chief among these is the potential for car pooling or sharing vehicles. Most cars actually spend very little of their time on the road. They will drive us to work or do the school and shopping runs and then must be parked until required for the return journeys. This makes cars very inefficient. The driverless car, however, need not sit idle while you are at work or attending to other chores. Instead, it can be used for other journeys by other people. This has the power to transform the way we use cars. We would be far less likely to need to own a car and instead we would use one simply when we needed it. This would make the car much cheaper and more efficient to use.

Car sharing schemes are nothing new and there are many schemes currently operating in our major cities. These do have limitations, however, surrounding the distribution of the cars. Most of these schemes are operated on a ‘return to base’ model. Here, the user of the car must return the car to the same pick up point after they have finished with it. This severely limits the convenience of such systems. Where a ‘point-to-point’ system is operated, cars can pile up in popular locations and then need redistributing. The driverless car, on the other hand, can simply take itself to wherever it is needed. The potential for transforming our car use in this way is huge and may be the key to the future of motoring.
 

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