Everything You Need To Know About Driverless Cars

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The future never looks exactly how we imagined it a few decades ago. While it may not have flyings cars or hover boards like what Back To The Future depicted the future to be, you can say those days aren’t far away. Where in the past, autonomous vehicles were just a part of movies and music videos, these new car technologies are successfully coming into being.

I think we can all agree that flying cars would have been this century’s biggest innovation. While flying cars are still being tested out for various safety and regulation matters, we do see the emergence of prominent self-driving cars instead. But before that, let’s delve deeper into all there is about driverless cars.

An autonomous car, also known as robotic cars, self-driving car, auto car(automatic) and driverless vehicle, as the name implies, is an autonomous vehicle that has the capability to perform all functions related to everyday driving, parking, and commuting.

It is a technology that senses the environment and upon entering the destination, navigates its way without human interference.

Only Google has so far gone the furthest with autonomous cars, but many automakers, including Ford, Audi, Nissan, Volkswagen, and Toyota, are also entering the competition and working on developing driverless technology.

Although the concept of a car driven by a computer might make many people nervous because of its novelty, the technology proves to be continuum and not a binary choice between control by a machine or a human driver.

Google’s artificial intelligence becomes first non-human to qualify as a driver. Image Courtesy: Google

To some extent, this technology is already available today on a smaller scale in vehicles that come equipped with adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warnings, self-adjusting speed controls, vehicle stability systems, lane management systems and self-parking assist.

Autonomous cars come equipped with the most advanced set of technologies. These include computer vision, advanced GPS, radar and LIDAR.

Uber’s self-driving cars are launching in Washington D.C. for testing. Image Courtesy: Uber

The driverless technology works by using numerous cameras and sensors that detect and collect distance and speed data from objects, cars, and the road. The information collected from these cameras and sensors are then fed into a control module.

Several companies, including Google, are programming their cars to not take any action, such as changing lanes, accelerating or braking, unless there is a 0% chance of it resulting in an accident.

Theoretically, this ensures perfect safety as long as all the sensors and electronics work as intended, and as long as nearby human drivers don’t do anything unpredictable.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that this technology is new and the kinks are still being ironed out. While many argue that the number is significantly lower compared to accidents caused by human-piloted vehicles, it is still too early to tell.

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