Autonomous and electric cars: just a dream?

January 11, 2018 7:00 am


If you’re a car aficionado or a racing fan, you probably can’t wait to find out the true picture of future cars  you keep hearing about, as new technologies emerge on Autonomous Vehicles (AVs), Electric Vehicles (EVs) and Solar Sunroofs, to mention a few.

You probably can’t wait to live this passion and drive one of those very soon!

Are you patient?

It will take more time than expected to enjoy the experience that these new technologies bring.

More time is needed to overcome serious challenges facing these creative mobility endeavours to the extent that you may likely be stuck with good old regular cars for now and the near future.

What’s the uphill battle about?

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Autonomous delay

Safety is the number one concern when it comes to putting autonomous cars in use. This is why automakers are taking conservative steps when it comes to autonomous technology.

“We take very conservative steps,” Lee Jinwoo, Vice President of Hyundai’s Intelligent Safety Technology Center in Namyang, South Korea, said in an interview.

“We want to test and validate the technology first. It will not be for sale in 2021, only testing in city use,” he was quoted by the media as saying.

Toyota is also projecting a long time frame to release autonomous cars.

It introduced an EV concept called e-Palette, a box on wheels engineered to drive itself on set routes.

“In 2020, Toyota will demonstrate the vehicle at the Tokyo Olympics, but even then the car may need as many as two engineers or test drivers to ensure customer safety,” Toyota said a media statement.

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Moreover, Volvo’s experiment to deliver 100 self-driving cars to regular people in Sweden in 2017 for testing has been postponed to 2021.

According to the Verge, a technology website, Volvo is taking a more measured approach when it comes to autonomous cars, by monitoring the way its Drive Me families interact with varying levels of autonomy. “The autonomous car must be the safest car on the road,” it quoted Marcus Rothoff, Volvo’s Autonomous Driving Program Director, as saying.

Companies pursuing automated driving have been calling cities to build the necessary infrastructure, as AVs will change the current system of transportation.

“Often, AVs need clear lane striping, places to store the data collected by driving and if they run on electricity a more robust charging network. Without properly anticipating the sometimes opaque challenges, the system could be crippled in its infancy,” according to Govtech, a technology platform.

Not so attractive EVs

EVs surely have their advantages by being eco-friendly and saving the cost of gas. However, they also have their drawbacks.

According to gearheads, a website for car news, batteries that power EVs are a costly affair and only last for four years, which could add to the maintenance costs.

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Conserve Energy Future, an energy news website, says that electric cars are limited by range and speed.

“Most of these cars have range about 50-100 miles and need to be recharged again. You just can’t use them for long journeys as of now,” it says.

Also, EVs will be late to come into use.

Kia, for instance, plans to roll-out 16 new electric or hybrid models by 2025.

As for Toyota, it is planning to transform its fleet of vehicles to incorporate electrification by 2025.

A study published by National Geographic reveals that electrification of cars will reach 90% in the U.S., Canada, Europe and other rich countries, but not before 2040.

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While EVs take much time to be recharged, a solution to this may be Solar Rooftops.

But are they really efficient?

Solar Roof: in your dreams!

They are not efficient, according to Tesla’s Chairman, Elon Musk. A SR on the car is out of the picture, at least for now.

“The actual surface of the car is not that much, and cars are often inside. The least efficient place to put solar is on the car,” Musk was quoted as saying by Inverse, a science news platform.

“Part of the problem is that solar panels need a lot of surface area to be effective. Current commercially viable solar panels really only absorb the sun’s radiation at about 20 percent efficiency. Other cars with panels — like the $130,000 Karma Revero — only get an extra mile- and-a-half of range off their rooftop solar options, which, in the grand scheme of things, is basically nothing,” according to Inverse.

With the AV and EV dream getting harder to reach, will automakers be able to surprise us and overcome the challenges before the next decade or is it all just a dream?

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Dana Halawi
By Dana Halawi
Senior Journalist
Dana Halawi has over seven years of experience in Journalism with articles published in multiple magazines and a newspaper in Lebanon. She specialized in Banking and Finance at the Lebanese American University and has a Master’s degree in International Affairs.



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