While the oft-imagined scenario of a city full of self-driving cars transporting people around seamlessly is not quite here yet, it may not be too far off in the future.
Autonomous vehicles are set to shape the future of driving with consulting firm McKinsey predicting that up to 15 per cent of new vehicles sold by 2030 could be fully autonomous.
To prepare yourself for this future, learn more about the technology and the implications of self-driving automobiles as something strange is happening to our relationship with cars.
What are autonomous vehicles?
“Autonomous vehicles” (AVs) is just another name for self-driving, or driverless, vehicles.
Simply put, the vehicle can guide or navigate by itself without a human driver.
It works by utilising a suite of sensors, cameras, radars and artificial intelligence to “see” and “sense” what’s around it, while computer software helps the car navigate and avoid collisions.
Are they already in our midst?
Definitely! In fact, some mass-produced cars on the road right now already boast some level of autonomy, such as parking assist and traffic jam pilot.
Singapore has been working on self-driving vehicles since 2010 when the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, or SMART, tested self-driving golf buggies on the National University of Singapore campus.
In 2016, Asia’s first fully operational self-driving vehicle was put to service at Gardens by the Bay and in November 2017, the city state launched its first autonomous vehicle test centre.
Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea plans to have self-driving cars on sale by 2020 and Japan has the ambitious plan of running a self-driving vehicle force when it hosts the Olympics that same year.
In China, internet giant Baidu has been given the greenlight to test its autonomous cars in Beijing.
What are the implications of self-driving cars?
A 2011 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) shared that a driverless system could cut passenger vehicles by two-thirds in Singapore.
A reduction in cars will lead to less congestion and air pollution.
The space used for parking can then be converted to green spaces, such as parks or play areas for kids.