They’re used for commuting, for travelling, for leisure and for business too. Indeed, cars are a huge part of our lives from the moment we turn 17 and are legally able to begin learning to drive. It’s impossible to imagine a world without cars, however, can you imagine a world where the cars actually drive themselves?

It can be difficult to imagine a world which is dominated by driverless vehicles, though this futuristic concept is probably infinitely more realistic than you had initially thought. Copenhagen already has a driverless light metro, Pittsburgh has a fleet of self-driving cars and Finland are currently experimenting with self-driving buses on a few short routes. With huge brands like Google and Tesla championing the unique concept of self-driving vehicles, it begs the question are self-driving vehicles the future?

The answer to this question is not as simple as a yes or no, because there are a number of different ways that a car can be autonomous. From a slight level of automation, where the car requires a human to fully operate all aspects of the car, yet technology within the car can alert the driver to different conditions, environment and any obstructions which might affect the driving conditions, to a fully functioning self driving vehicle like the Waymo, formerly known as the Google self driving vehicle.

We are seeing more and more gradual automation within modern vehicles, from cruise control which can be switched on to maintain a selected constant speed without the use of the accelerator pedal, to the more modern advanced park assist concept which can be found in some of the new Vauxhall models. This technology uses sensors to find a bay or parallel parking space and navigate you into them, doing the steering for you.

With regards to embracing a fully automated vehicle, there are certainly perks to having a car which is programmed to drive without assistance. Human beings can be distracted, whether that’s by conversation, a lack of concentration, being under the influence of alcohol or being on the phone, it’s undeniable that car crashes are a huge killer of young people. Take away the distractions and opt for a machine which is tailor made to drive and you eliminate the concept of distractions. However, on the other hand, driving is just as much about responding to the actions of other drivers on the road as it as about operating the car, so it begs the question whether or not a machine would be equipped to appropriately react to other drivers.

A huge argument in favour of automated vehicles will be how they could potentially allow people with disabilities who are currently unable to drive the flexibility and independence of having a vehicle, without their disability affecting their driving.

In conclusion, self-driving vehicles have a long way to go before they are taking over the roads, but we fully expect to see the inclusion of more and more automated features on modern vehicles, and we don’t think we’ve seen the last of self driving cars, or even scratched the surface of what technology can do for the driving industry.