Imagine climbing into a sleek, streamlined Mercedes, telling the driver where you want to go, and then kicking back to watch a movie whilst you’re transported to where you need to be. It doesn’t sound all that futuristic until you realise that there is no driver. This is the Mercedes Benz F015, a robot vehicle that’s also a mobile living space, and can take over the driving whenever you want it to. It’s what Mercedes expects a luxury vehicle to look like by the year 2030 – and they’re not alone.
Robot cars are already rolling along roads in the US, UK and Germany as part of government pilot schemes, with big brands like Audi, Lexus, Toyota (and of course, Google) working on driverless systems1. Self-drive technology uses lasers, cameras and sensors to monitor and react to your surroundings – and the companies behind it argue that it will make driving safer by eliminating human error2.
What will a robot vehicle set you back? The price tag for adding driverless technology to a vehicle is between £50,000 and £70,000 today, but there are predictions this could drop to under £5,000 by 2025, making a self-driving car an affordable choice within a decade. And it could be even cheaper to go driverless. Taxi company Uber plans to create fully autonomous vehicles that will simply turn up whenever you need them. You won’t even need to worry about parking.