Driverless cars have rapidly moved from a science fiction fantasy, to a tangible reality. George Osborne put weight behind the concept in his recent Budget announcement by pledging a £100m investment into the development of driverless technologies intended to help car manufacturers to take their autonomous designs to the next level. Although details of how this investment will be spent haven't been specified, it's clear that the UK is striving to be at the forefront of this technology and automotive revolution.
In reality, it is likely to be some time before fully automated cars are taking over our streets, but the technologies that will underpin this future are becoming increasingly common. Driverless features, such as automated parking and speed sensors, have been introduced into modern cars and proven to be very popular amongst many city drivers. Furthermore, driverless traffic assistance is likely to be just around the corner as a purchasable option for consumers.
With these automated features already in existence and popular in today's market, it's easy to see why research from Lux Research suggests that the driverless car industry will be worth $87billion by 2030. Using a selection of rigorously tested cameras, sensors and safety equipment, driverless cars will be able to navigate themselves around our roads with a level of sophistication that means humans will not need to interact with the car, in anyway, throughout any given journey.
Extending beyond the obvious benefits given to the everyday car user, driverless cars will mean that people without the ability to drive, such as the elderly, disabled or children, will now have a mode of transport that is both legal and safe.
However, in order to get the most out of driverless vehicles, investment in the driving environment will vital for these cars to become compatible.
The connected car will need to be able to communicate with other cars on the road, pay for petrol autonomously, find itself a parking space, order goods ahead of arrival at a set destination, and much more.
All of these activities will produce a huge amount of data that will need to transmitted and processed seamlessly and in real-time. To cope with this influx of new information, cities and governments will need to make sure they have a fast, scalable and secure network in place. Failure to do so could result in driverless and connected cars becoming completely redundant, regardless of how refined the technology within the actual car might be.
The network underpinning autonomous cars will have to be extremely reliable and robust so that data can be transferred quickly to prevent any potentially dangerous situations. The New IP is likely to play a major part in making this possible.
The New IP refers to a new type of network, one that offers a more automated and dynamic range of capabilities based on software and virtualisation.
The New IP has been designed to enable and empower a new era of connected devices, and help make the Internet of Things a reality for businesses and consumers. With automotive manufacturers, technology giants and governments all investing in driverless development, it's clear that the concept is here to stay. However, although the likes of Google, Uber and Audi are grabbing the headlines with their latest autonomous innovations, driverless cars will only ever be as good as the environment in which they are operating.