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Tyres  /  Tyre NewsMotoring  / The Future of Autonomous Travel

The Future of Autonomous Travel

The Future of Autonomous Travel

For many people, self-driving cars are the future of travel. But what will that look like? The answer is… who knows?

That’s the beauty of being on the early wave of a new movement. The technology could splinter off into a whole myriad of possibilities. Some which we haven’t even considered yet.

In the future, it does not make sense that we will have just one type of autonomous car and/or transport. There will be different levels of automation and different types of vehicles.

Already there are big plans for how to implement this type of technology onto our roads. With ways to reduce the ever increasing problem of congestion that is felt across most of the cities in the world.

The Tesla Hyperloop

In 2013, Elon Musk unveiled his plan for a new kind of transport system called Hyperloop.

The idea was to use magnetic levitation to propel pods through a tube at speeds faster than trains or planes can achieve. With claims that it could be cheaper than high-speed rail and faster than air travel.

Hyperloop

The first Hyperloop test track has been built in Nevada and there's talk about building one between LA and San Francisco — with the goal of cutting the journey time from six hours to 30 minutes.

Hyperloop is still very much in development but it shows how far we've come since autonomous vehicles were first invented - from being able to drive themselves around test tracks to potentially moving passengers at high speed between cities in tubes underground.

Boring Las Vegas Tunnels

Another interesting examples of where this technology is taking us is The Boring Company's plan to build a network of tunnels in Las Vegas. Yep, Elon Musk is at the heart of this one too.

The idea is that you can drive your car on top of the tunnel and then get out of it at the other end, without having to stop or slow down.

This way, you can travel much faster than on the surface streets, which will make autonomous driving much more viable.

Las Vegas

It's an interesting idea and it seems like it could work well for some applications. But there are some big challenges with this approach.

The tunnels need to be extremely well sealed so that water or air doesn't leak in from above or below. If there's ever a problem with one tunnel, traffic could back up everywhere on either side of it as people wait for repairs.

The tunnels need to be very straight (or if they're curved at all, they need to be perfectly smooth curves). That makes them more expensive and harder to build than regular roads because a lot more digging would be required.

Birmingham Business Park & Beyond

Driverless shuttles have been making some headway and schemes are already in place. The latest comes from Birmingham, where a driverless shuttle bus has been put into operation at the city's airport business park.

The 12-seater vehicles will be used to ferry workers between parking lots and their offices. It follows an earlier trial in Milton Keynes back in October 2018 which saw Arrival test out its autonomous technology on public streets.

Business park

Solihull Council have recently announced plans to extend this and have a fully automated fleet of shuttles which will ferry passengers between Birmingham International rail station and Birmingham Business Park via the NEC Birmingham.

There are other companies that have been trialling similar vehicles around the world.

For example, Waymo recently launched its own self-driving shuttle service in Phoenix Arizona after spending years testing its technology on public roads. The service operates 24 hours a day 365 days a year and has already transported over 10,000 passengers.

Certainly more to come

These examples are but drops in the ocean. With new schemes, plans and routes being set up or planned across the globe on an almost quarterly basis.

As the technology grows, there is sure to be a greater level of these types of vehicles moving passengers and cargo around in the coming years.

What will this mean for other road users? Will we be looking at a iRobot style future where all the roads and motorways are controlled by AI and tech? Time will tell…

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