Are There any Self-Driving RVs Available?
Everything you need to know about the technology that is working to take you out of the driver’s seat permanently.
Voice-activated robots. Space exploration for civilians. Virtual reality systems in your home. As technology continues to progress, our lives are in a constant state of evolution. These new advancements offer us new and exciting ways to engage with the world and each other. They also increase our efficiency in our day-to-day tasks. The camping and RV experience is also primed to get quite the update.
You may have heard about self-driving cars by now. Big tech companies are increasingly launching technology for smart vehicles that are able to navigate roads in real-time and get passengers to their destinations safely. Imagine how much more time you would have each week if you could do whatever you wanted during your car ride. Read a book, play a game, watch a show, call a friend, plan your kid’s birthday party—whatever you need to do!
Well, believe it or not, self-driving RVs are on the horizon. Companies are investing serious cash in technology that would be capable of autonomous operation of these huge vehicles. Here’s everything you need to know about the (not-so-distant) future of autonomous self-driving RVs.
Benefits of Self-Driving RVs
The advantages here are clear. As you well know, RV trips require hours and hours of time on the road. With no need for a driver, everyone in your camping crew can rest peacefully and enjoy themselves during the ride. In addition, not everyone is comfortable driving a large RV for long periods of time. By taking away the primary responsibility of operation, more people may be interested in the RV experience.
Beyond camping, some experts also see the potential for self-propelled RVs being used as mobile businesses in the future. Imagine booking an appointment on the mobile gym where you can get in a workout on your way home from work. Consumers are indicating that they want efficiency wherever possible and a large autonomous vehicle with tons of amenities offers a perfect scenario.
While we are still a way out from these self-driving rigs being commercially available, I’d like to share some information about how these vehicles might operate and some exciting concepts that manufacturers are already exploring.
How Can these Vehicles Operate Safely on the Road?
You’re probably wondering: how are self-driving RVs possible? How would it navigate?
There are a variety of technologies that RV manufacturers can use in combination to help guide your RV from point A to point B. Maybe the most unsurprising one is a camera. You might be familiar with the cameras common passenger cars use to help you back up or show you what’s in your blind spot. Advanced computers in self-driving vehicles can use data from camera images to determine their location relative to surrounding objects. For example, it could recognize that a potential hazard in the road (like a tire) is not moving and that it must brake and if possible, navigate around it.
More advanced gadgets like GPS can help the RV know exactly how fast it’s going and whether it’s on the right route. Wi-Fi and cellular signals can also communicate with other vehicles or use their passengers’ location data to evaluate traffic patterns. This is similar to how your current phone navigation app determines that slow-down 15 miles ahead and reroutes you with a quicker option. As more and more RVs become outfitted with increasingly advanced cellular technology, it’s not hard to imagine these large leisure rigs in a world of self-driving vehicles.
Self-Driving RV Concept Vehicles
German company Hymer made plenty of headlines when they introduced their self-driving RV concept Galileo in 2019. The futuristic vehicle is very pod-like, offering a fully customizable living space that fits onto an electrically powered flat chassis. Hymer designed the computer to input preselected vacation routes that will bring you from one destination to the next, automatically. Your RV will essentially be your tour guide as you take in the view from the wrap-around panoramic windows or the extendable wooden deck once you’ve set up camp for the night.
In the near future, you can expect self-driving offerings from well-known American companies like Winnebagothat to look and feel similar to the RVs you’re used to. Rather than being fully autonomous, the first iteration of these vehicles will have an auto-pilot function that you can turn on or off and will likely require a driver to still be present in the seat to take control, if necessary. For this initial rollout of self-driving RV technology, think of the function as an add-on for RV models like advanced navigation capability.
Self-driving vehicles are here, and autonomous self-driving RVs aren’t all that far behind. There are still years of safety considerations and analysis for companies to complete before we see this option at any sort of scale, but it’s a whole lot of fun imagining what your RV trips would look like without the need for a driver. Who knows? In 10 years or less, that 700-mile road trip to Yellowstone that was once an exhausting ordeal will become a chance to relax and have fun with the family before you even get to the park.