I found a video on Facebook, I was looking for my daily news fix actually, then as I clicked play it blew my mind.
Watch a Tesla drive itself through I-65 rush hour trafficAuto-piloting Tesla: awesome or terrifying? Posted by al.com on Thursday, 31 March 2016
As for my reaction, personally I believe I was living under a rock. There is already a Tesla Model S that has Autopilot capabilities way back 2015 (October 2015 cc Wikipedia).
For previous software and hardware improvements, the idea of autonomous driving was just a dream. But now, there are strides on how this can help everyday consumers. The Tesla autopilot system is so advanced that with it in a highway (not congested as seen in the Facebook video above) is astoundingly accurate. It can help in parking also, with it being autonomous when parking - by your assistance or just be a spectator. There is also the Valet Mode which basically is a powered-down feature of the car for limiting the joy riding urges of other people - this mode limits access to the cars (owners) personal features / apps / details and also puts a damper on the cars max speed.
In the end, previous iterations of models are all testing platforms for smarter cars. Cars that will basically drive themselves, sending us off to the airport, going back to the garage and fetching us or our loved ones from other places. It will function as a chauffeur for transport and also will help in deliveries, supply trucks that go to-and-from warehouses to markets or homes for courier services. Basically, autonomous driving has a very broad horizon in front of it.
Fully-autonomous VS self-driving
From my point of view self-driving, smart cars and autonomous driving are all the same, but Yamaha has put a dent in that definition when I watched their video of MotoBot.
MOTOBOT is an autonomous motorcycle-riding humanoid robot that approaches riding operations from a human rider’s standpoint — with no modifications made to the motorcycle itself. The development theme is “Beyond Human Capabilities.” In general, robots are developed to specialize in a specific task and this typically allows them to surpass the capability of humans for that task. Utilizing this advantage, the end goal of MOTOBOT is to become capable of competing against Valentino Rossi’s lap times around a racetrack. The knowledge and highly advanced fundamental technologies gained from this challenge will be put to use in developing new products and creating new value.
This is not just a program that directly controls a device, this is an A.I. that functions to manually control specific devices on the motorcycle. In plain terms, its a robot that rides a motorcycle. It's purpose? Create a safe and broader test platform for creating more advanced machinery to complement the device. Imagine a test dummy that will actually drive the car and will perform commands that mimic any set of driver profile, all for the sake of perfecting a machine that will deliver a safer and more consumer friendly motorcycle (or car?).
In the end, this is all about innovation and revolution. We, as simple humans want convenience and what better way to achieve convenience than by automating our everyday tasks. With the advent of smart devices we are going to a new frontier of living. Whether this changes are good or bad, what awaits us with all the innovations we are churning out we can never be sure, not until it comes knocking on our doors. But, changes help us adapt and what have we been adapting to for the past decades? Information revolution, technological advancements and tales of science-fiction coming to reality.