The rise of self-driving cars and autonomous electric cars in 2022.

self-driving cars

Love or hate the idea – and apparently a lot of people hate it – self-driving cars are on the way. In April 2022 the Government confirmed upcoming changes to The Highway Code which will introduce the first wave of self-driving cars in the UK. 

With self-driving technology rapidly developing across the globe, it could be as early as this year that we see the first vehicles approved for self-driving in the UK. Of course, these vehicles will have to undergo some serious testing and meet strict standards.

At the moment, the Government is still developing a full legal framework for self-driving cars. What we do know is that the first string of rules mean that motorists must be ready to take control over any self-driving vehicle if necessary. You’ll also be able to view non-driving related content on built-in screens while the vehicle is in control. However, this will not change the existing laws on using your mobile phone while driving. 

While it will be some time before we can fully recline and relax in a fully-autonomous car, the revolution of driverless vehicles has already begun. Today, we’re going to look through three cars with the most advanced self-driving technology that are available to buy or hire right now. (And, they’re all fully electric!)

Tesla Model 3

At the top of our list is the infamous Tesla Model 3. Tesla certainly shouts the loudest about its electric cars and self-driving technology, but they aren’t bragging about nothing. Last year the Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling electric car and the second best-selling car throughout the UK.

In terms of autonomy, Tesla’s basic Autopilot system is standard on all of their UK models. This combines adaptive cruise control, emergency braking and lane-keeping assist systems. When you reach motorway speeds, the autonomous features will kick in to match the speed of the car in front of you. It will also keep you in your lane with very little input from the driver.

self-driving cars

The Model 3 goes slightly further as it has Enhanced Autopilot which can change lanes for the driver. When you indicate to move lanes, the Model 3 will monitor your surroundings and change lanes. The Tesla Model 3 can also park itself in tight space, which is especially handy in jam-packed car parks. 

Model 3 drivers can also choose to (expensively) upgrade this technology to the Fully Self-Driving Capability. This gives the car the ability to stop at traffic lights or stop signs. Plus, Tesla says they’ll be adding the ability to autosteer on city streets very soon. 

BMW iX

The BMW iX is the brand’s first bespoke pure electric car since the i3 launched way back in 2013. We’re sure there’s a love or loathe divide with the BMW iX’s design, but we personally love it. Plus, it’s a pretty impressive electric SUV! Depending on a driver’s chosen model, the iX comes with an array of cameras and sensors. 

The most basic models have five cameras, five radar sensors and 12 ultrasonic sensors which are capable of helping driver’s avoid a crash. Meanwhile, more advanced models come with more safety technology. 

BMW says it’s aiming to be able to achieve level three autonomy on some of their upcoming vehicles, but there’s already a long list of standard driver-assist features. These include a front collision warning system that can detect cyclists and pedestrians. The steering wheel of the BMW iX can also keep you in your lane on the motorway. 

Alongside this, the iX’s sensors work well with the in-built navigating system. When approaching a corner or roundabout, the regenerative braking system is increased to slow the vehicle down as soon as you lift off the accelerator. 

Want to test out the BMW iX? You can register your interest in hiring a BMW iX from EVision Electric Vehicles here!

Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf was one of the first electric cars to break into the mainstream back in 2011. It’s a great entry to the electric car world and has continued to be a best-seller. A standard Nissan Leaf includes ProPilot, a semi-autonomous system that can be used when driving in single-lanes on dual carriageways and motorways. 

These help to maintain lane positioning and keep a safe distance away from the vehicle in front of you. ProPilot technology can also take control of the accelerator and brake pedals to autonomously park the Leaf. This can be done in both bay and parallel park spaces. 

Back in 2020, a modified, self-driving Nissan Leaf travelled 230 miles from Bedfordshire to Sunderland. It broke records for being the longest single journey achieved by an autonomous car in the UK, and one which included motorways, roundabouts and overtaking manoeuvres.

While this EV was modified to achieve this level of self-driving capabilities, it is interesting to see what Nissan could do with the Leaf in the future. Especially if fully-autonomous, self-driving cars do become a norm in the future.

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* All information correct as of 30/06/2022.