There’s been some cool stuff unveiled at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and one of the key themes that car manufacturers are playing with is driverless technologies.
It seems that "driverless cars" are getting closer and closer to being a reality. Massive players like Google, Tesla, Audi and BMW have all pledged to have cars incorporating driverless technology available before 2020. Several of them have actually produced working driverless vehicles already.
I can't decide where I stand on driverless cars yet.
On one hand it would mean that the huge number of appalling drivers on British roads would no longer be a problem. It would also mean drink drivers would no longer be a problem; both of which would be excellent.
"It would also mean drink drivers would no longer be a problem."
Some people have also posited ideas about how our relationships with vehicles will change. Instead of owning a vehicle, we'll just flag down the nearest unmanned transport pod which will then whisk us off to wherever we want to go. This might mean less cars on the road and more effective transport, which in turn reduces the horrendous traffic problems and could free up the roads for those of us that do choose to drive.
On the other hand, I wonder what driverless technology means for those of us that don't just mindlessly amble from A to B but instead actually enjoy the act of driving? Are our days numbered? Remember, it was only recently that our European overlords broached the idea of mandatory "black boxes" in all our cars.
I wonder if we'll reach a point where the nanny state will decide that driving cars ourselves is just too dangerous.
With humans apparently being so incredibly stupid that we somehow manage to kill 1.2 million of each other in car accidents each year. I can't help but wonder if legislators will try and put a stop to it some time in the future, "for our own safety" of course.
This may not not be on the immediate horizon but I wouldn't rule it out either. That said, driverless cars may actually be coming more quickly than you might expect.
The UK government has apparently decided to champion the idea of driverless vehicles and is already planning a review to evaluate how existing legislative frameworks could incorporate the introduction of driverless vehicles.
It is also planning to create a £10m prize to fund a city which opts to become a testing ground for electric vehicles.
Credible analysts are taking driverless cars seriously too. PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts a reduction in traffic accidents to one tenth of their current numbers and predicts the number of vehicles in the US would drop from 245 million to 2.4 million.
In an ideal world, I'd love to see a balance. Driverless technology available to those that want it (and I think a lot of people would want it), but driveable cars remaining completely optional and uninhibited. If PWC's predictions are correct that might mean 100 times fewer cars on the road which would be amazing!
Anyway, whilst we argue amongst ourselves about the pros and cons of driverless cars, BMW have taken a step towards showing that even as a passenger in your own car, the ride could still be pretty fun.
Using the driverless technology employed in their M235i demonstrator, BMW have managed to get their show car doing some pretty epic drifts, all by itself!
You can see for yourself in the video below, skip to about the 1 min mark for the drifting
Want more drifting? Check out Chris Forsberg hooning around in his 280z
What do you think? Where do you stand on driverless cars? Leave a comment below.