Driverless cars are a boon for the backseat driver, says Alvin Thomas, who reviews two models marking the motoring revolution around the world.
Imagine this: you’ve had a late night and you’re running late for work. Your boss is probably right up your collar early morning, and you’ve received 10 text messages from him/her to get to work and set the ball rolling for the week. But you can barely lift your head from your bed let alone drive to work today. So, what would you do in such a scenario? You’re probably going to call in sick, aren’t you?
However, simply think of how amazing it would be if your car drove you while you snoozed your way to work. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? But what if we told you that there are already cars on the market that will take full control of the wheel and let you kick back and relax?
That’s right, folks. Today, we take a look at two of the most renowned autonomous and semi-autonomous cars that can drive you from A to B without you laying your hands on the wheel. We’re looking at the future of driving – a future where one needn’t actually drive.
Let’s kick things off with the masters of self-driving vehicles, Tesla. Named after the inventor of alternative current, Nikola Tesla; Elon Musk’s dream to serve the masses with clean-energy vehicles through his electrical vehicles project came to life with his brand, which was founded in 2003. Of course, after the early stumbles, Tesla has now become the second-largest global plug-in car manufacturer, only after Nissan. However, the American manufacturer hopes to topple the Japanese giants with its Model 3.
The Model 3 will be the cheapest Tesla in the lineup, with a starting price of roughly RO14,000, and will slot in between the Model S sedan and the Model X crossover. The car will run entirely on electricity and will have Tesla’s legendary autopilot system installed on board, meaning that it can drive itself.
The autopilot system is extremely clever, safe and intuitive. All the driver (or passenger) has to do is select the destination and mark the route on the large infotainment screen upfront. After this, the car’s onboard camera system will work in tandem with the GPS, radar, odometry and the sensors to drive itself to its destination. The car is also equipped to keep track of road variations, weather conditions as well as traffic ahead to alter its speed and route. However, the driver can take control at any moment should he sense impending danger. But just so you know, all Tesla models are equipped with the company’s Autopilot hardware and safety systems. The Model 3 has also scored 5 out of 5 in the every category of crash tests given by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Even the slowest Model 3 will clock a 0-100kph time of merely six seconds, which is faster than most German saloons featuring in this price bracket, and the range will stand at an astounding 344km.
Tesla says that it has also managed to gather 115,000 pre-orders even before its debut. Unfortunately, Oman isn’t on the list of countries eligible for pre-order of the car but those interested can place and order online and mark “United Arab Emirates” as the destination.
The all-new S90 was revealed in Oman a weeks ago and we’re due to be taking it out for a review soon. But why are we so excited to feature it in our section this week? For starters, it fits into our category of self-driving cars and secondly, it is currently available for purchase in the Sultanate.
The new S90 has created waves for its avant-garde looks and its supreme driving dynamics but more so for upping the ante in the luxury saloon segment due to its ability to drive itself on certain roads.
The “Pilot Assist” (second generation) system will be featured as a part of standard equipment of the S90. The complex system will use a set of cameras as well as radar guidance to track lane-markings on the road, and accelerate, brake and steer at speeds up to 128kph. Other brands have had such features as an option but the S90 is the first car in the world to come standard with these semi-autonomous driving capabilities.
Earlier this year, we tested the new XC90, which was fitted with an earlier version of this system, and instantly fell in love with it so we cannot even begin to imagine how advanced the new system will be. Anyways, more on that in the coming weeks.