It is a future which seems unimaginable for most long suffering commuters and could make drivers virtually redundant.
No gridlock and safe, clean streets in which cars diagnose their own faults, order new parts, detect problems on the road ahead and even talk to other vehicles as they drive themselves.
But that day might be closer than you think, thanks to the efforts of a Huddersfield company.
There are predictions of huge growth in the production of autonomous, driverless cars by 2030, and the production of connected cars – with inbuilt “telematics” devices, capable of communicating to other vehicles and machines – is forecast to rise from around 800,000 last year to two million in 2025.
And now a new i-Motors project, which has been given a £1.325 million award from the UK’s innovation agency Innovate UK, is setting out to establish universal standards on how vehicles communicate with each other.
Making use of connected cars’ ability to support apps, i-Motors – led by Huddersfield digital technology company Control F1 and academics from Nottingham University’s Geospatial Institute and Human Factors Research Group – will build a mobile platform that allows vehicles of different manufacturers and origins to transfer and store data.
The i-Motors team will use patented technology, allowing data to be collected and analysed at greater speeds than ever before.
The information can be combined with other data sources such as weather reports, event data and traffic feeds, easing congestion and increasing safety through realtime updates and route planning.
And the platform will also allow vehicles to report errors, which can be automatically cross-checked against similar reports to diagnose the problem and reduce the chance of a breakdown.
The project will also address the issue of limited connectivity by developing sensors capable of transmitting data to the cloud in real time. The sensors will allow vehicles to remain connected, even when out of internet and GPS range.
Control F1, based at Colne Road in Huddersfield, develops digital products and creative software, and won the Innovation and Enterprise Award at last year’s Examiner Business Awards.
Managing director Andy Dumbell said “Connected and driverless cars offer us the opportunity to make huge strides in terms of reducing congestion, bringing down emissions, and even saving lives.
“We believe that through i-Motors we can set the standard for connected and autonomous vehicles and redefine the future of our streets, highways and cities.”
Dr Gary Burnett, associate professor in human factors, Faculty of Engineering at University of Nottingham, said: “With 90% of vehicle crashes largely down to human error, the next step change in driving safety can only really happen if you relieve the driver from certain tasks.
“We will use our ‘state of the art’ immersive driving simulator to investigate how to design connected and autonomous vehicles to ensure the potential of the technology can be realised.”
i-Motors already has the backing of Nottingham, Coventry and Sheffield City Councils, where the new technology will first be piloted.