What's The Latest On Self-Driving Cars?

Posted: Oct 22 2019, 11:08am CDT | by , in Cars & Vehicles


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What's the Latest on Self-Driving Cars?
Image: Pixabay

It can be hard to keep up with the latest self-driving car news. Here's an update on all the latest technology and what we can expect for the future.

Since Tesla first offered its autopilot option in 2014, self-driving cars have been on everyone's mind. Five years later, it's still one of the only companies providing any sort of autonomous functionality. Where are our self-driving cars in 2019? What's the latest news on this technological advancement, and when can we expect to see more of these vehicles on the roads?

What Do We Have Now?

Currently, only two automotive manufacturers offer self-driving capabilities in their cars — Tesla and Audi. Both companies offer Level 3 autonomy, where the vehicle can take over for short periods under specific circumstances, but still needs a human driver. Tesla's autopilot even requires that you put your hands back on the wheel periodically, or it will drop out of autopilot.

Other features currently available in new cars, like parking assistance and lane-keeping, fall under Level 2 autonomy. These features make the job of driving easier and safer, but don't take control away from the driver under normal conditions.

Most manufacturers are working on creating more fully autonomous vehicles, and many even have test models out on the roads in some states. Some ride-sharing companies, like Uber and Lyft, are testing their own self-driving cars. One of GM's first-generation self-driving vehicles is currently on display in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

What Can We Expect?

While Level 3 autonomy is fantastic, its a far cry from the fully autonomous Level 4 or 5 cars that we've been promised by science fiction and popular media.

Ford, Baidu and Volvo are all hoping to have Level 4 autonomous cars available by 2021. These vehicles will be able to operate with a minimum of human oversight. They still won't drive themselves and will have a driver's seat and steering wheel for you to take control of situations the car isn't programmed to handle.

Tesla, on the other hand, is trying to skip Level 4 entirely and jump straight to Level 5. It's intending to have these ready by 2020, a full year before anyone else is planning to release Level 4.

Not everyone is confident that self-driving cars are the future of transportation. Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, doesn't believe autonomous vehicles are possible, at least not yet. In spite of its founder's skepticism, Apple has been working on its own self-driving fleet — Project Titan — though any finished product from this project won't be ready for shipment until 2023 at the earliest, according to industry experts.

Looking Toward the Future

If projections prove true, we might be seeing our first Level 4 or 5 self-driving cars as soon as next year, if Tesla's promise to release Level 5 autonomous vehicles proves true. If it doesn't deliver, 2021 might be the soonest that these models will start hitting the streets, and those will be from Ford, Volvo and Baidu. Any way we look at it, self-driving cars are the wave of the future. We just have to wait for the technology to catch up with our imagination.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/56" rel="author">Scott Huntington</a>
Scott Huntington is a writer and journalist from Harrisburg PA who covered movies, tech, cars, and more. Check out his blog Off The Throttle or follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.




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