Next to Virtual Reality, autonomous cars is the technology that has been ‘just over the horizon’ for the longest time. Without quite being there yet. Elon Musk has promised full autonomy in Tesla cars ‘next year.’ It’s a promise he has made every year since 2014!
British start-up Wayve has not promised a date for when their cars will achieve full autonomy in traffic. But based on their performance, it looks pretty darn promising!
The company invited Bill Gates for a drive in a car using their AV2.0. And not to make things too easy, the ride took place in London, which has probably the most chaotic traffic of any city in the Western world!
In the video below, you can see Bill Gates cruising around London’s rush hour traffic eating fish and chips as the car manoeuvres around cyclists, pedestrians and cars performing the most unpredictable manoeuvres – like changing lanes and turning 180 degrees in front of Gates and company.
As the car is not fully developed, there was a back-up driver who was always ready to take the wheel if the car lost control of the traffic. Which, according to Gates, happened ‘a number of times.’
According to Wayve, AV2.0 relies on a different technology than other self-driving cars. Instead of building a large database of rules and exceptions for every conceivable situation, it uses deep learning AI to learn what it’s like to drive in general. And apply that knowledge to other situations. This means that the car can, in principle, drive anywhere – and not just on certain pre-programmed routes.
It’s still only an experimental model, and it’s part of the picture that Bill Gates, through Microsoft, is a co-investor in Wayve. But it’s still a convincing achievement! Personally, I love London, but I would never, given any alternatives, travel through it by car! Even with a driver.