Anyone who’s watched Jurassic Park will remember the first scene, in which a convoy of 4x4s drive together through the undulating terrain, autonomously following a rail in the ground. This great system allowed the excited passengers to observe dinosaurs on their pre-historic safari without worrying about the pesky task of controlling a vehicle.
Autonomous vehicles have been around for ages – in fact, it was in 1912 that the mechanical gyroscopic autopilot was invented. This device was able to keep an aeroplane on the straight and level for as long as the pilot deemed necessary.
Later, autopilots became a necessary addition to planes making long-distance flights, and they have since been incorporated into boats, submarines, and (most recently) cars.
So far, autonomous vehicles are proving to be extremely safe. Manufacturers have recorded nearly 210 million kilometres of autonomous-driving time in the course of testing.
Certain technologies have become familiar in existing production vehicles, from radar-based speed/distance control, to active safety braking with collision avoidance elements, and even the more mundane lane-departure-warning driving aid: cars are becoming safer and safer by the day.
Land Rover is among those who have been busy, and recently shared some if its research in the self-driving realm.