A few weeks ago the Grumpy Family visited Beaulieu Motor Museum. It was a great day out, despite the fact that I’m not terribly into cars, because there were so many beautiful and interesting historic vehicles to peruse. But this also got me thinking that in essence cars haven’t really changed that much since they were first invented. Sure they’ve got faster, their bodies are sleeker, and they have more gadgets to help us drive, but the general appearance and layout hasn’t changed that much. A child looking at a car from 1920 would still recognise it as a car, even if they had never seen one from that period before. This however may be about to change.
While I may not be a massive car enthusiast I am a technology enthusiast and I’ve been watching the development of self-driving cars with great interest. Current forecasts suggest that fully automated self-driving cars may be on the road as early as 2025. Baby won’t even be in secondary school by then! But the big question is what will this mean for the general public, and most importantly from my perspective, what will it mean for families.
At least 75% of UK households have a car, with many having more than one and while every single car owner is unlikely to run out and buy a self-driving car the moment they’re available, experts are predicting that the switchover will happen relatively quickly. The freakiest thing is that you probably haven’t noticed that it is already happening.
Assisted breaking, automated parking, lane sensors… These are all technologies which are becoming common place in modern cars. By 2020 it is expected that you will even be able use a type of autopilot on certain stretches of the motorway which will allow you to take your hand off the wheel for a few minutes while the car maintains speed and position for you.
Personally, I think that self-driving cars will be amazing for families as there are so many situations in which they could be handy. For example, we have one car which Grumpy Dad takes to work with him. This means that I’m without a car all day unless I drop him off at the start of the day and pick him up again at the end and while this is doable, it’s an awful lot of running around at times when Baby is usually having her meals. A future where I can just summon the car to drive itself home when I need it, sounds great to me.
Driving alone with Baby would also be easier. She hates being in the back of the car alone so I could simply hop in the back with her and let the car do the work. And all of the stress would be taken out of long car journeys as everyone would be able to relax and maybe even take a nap. There have been so many instances after a holiday or day away when this would have been bliss!
Realistically the first driverless cars are likely to look very much like modern cars, with a driver, passenger and back seat. I imagine it will be a while before people are ready to give up control entirely. But future cars could be amazing. Imagine hopping in your car, but instead of everyone facing the front, making it difficult to have conversations or interact, everyone faces the centre of the car. Any journey would become a chance for family time and long journeys could be spent playing games or having picnics. The whole experience of travelling could change from a means of getting somewhere to a pleasurable activity in itself. And don’t get me started on how fantastic a self-driving campervan could be!
Convenience and comfort aren’t the only positive changes that self-driving cars could bring. Self-driving cars could make roads much safer as advanced breaking technologies would be able to react much faster than a human who is easily distracted. It would also be impossible for a self-driving car to break the speed limit, and there would be no more tired drivers dozing off at the wheel.
Generally I can’t see any aspect of car travel that self-driving cars couldn’t improve, right down to fuel efficiency as self-driving cars will be able to drive smarter, working like a synchronised swimming team to filter, divert and keep roads flowing smoothly. The only people I can see losing out are the petrol heads and the idiots who believe they are far more important than any other road user!
I’m so excited to think that I will be around to see something as ordinary as the car undergo such a massive transformation and I can’t wait to see whether cars in 20 or 30 years have managed to change as much as mobile phones have in the same time period.
*This post was sponsored by Aceparts. All views and opinions are my own.