A ‘driverless car’ might sound like something out of a science fiction story or movie. But that day is fast approaching. Driverless cars are slowly moving from fantasy to reality. The way major car manufacturers are investing in research along with the government, it can be said that the future of the motor industry is in the hands of such automated vehicles.
But how do these cars actually run?
Driverless cars vary by manufacturer. But all have some common features. Which is roughly the same as Waymo’s features.
First, these cars have light detection and ranging sensors, LiDAR for short, mounted on the roof of the vehicle. Through the laser light, this sensor gets an idea about the position around the vehicle, the edge of the road and the road divider.
Second, these vehicles are equipped with radar sensors. Through this, the driverless car monitors the cars around it. These sensors monitor the position of nearby vehicles as well as their speed to avoid collisions.
Third, through video camera technology, these cars monitor pedestrians along with speed breakers or other obstacles on the road. This technology can also do the job of reading road directions and traffic signals.
Fourth, these cars have ultrasonic sensors embedded in their wheels. These sensors help avoid collisions with other vehicles or the road while parking and turning.
Fifth, these cars have a central computer system, which processes the above information and makes decisions. As a result, steering, acceleration and braking are very accurate.
Advantages of driverless cars
The key reason why the motor industry is rapidly moving towards driverless autonomous cars is that this technology, if implemented correctly, will be a new revolution. The benefits will be immense.
First, its biggest contribution would be to reduce the number of road accidents caused by human error.
Some of the latest prototypes of driverless cars have been tested and found to be able to detect broken roads, broken car parts, etc. and can effortlessly drive parallel to busy roads with cyclists.
Even, these cars will be electric powered i.e. environment friendly. Besides, being connected to the cloud-based internet, the cars will also sense traffic congestion in advance. Accordingly, by changing the route and speed, you can reach the destination quickly. As a result these cars will be examples of green driving due to minimal carbon consumption.
The trouble with driverless cars.
The biggest problem with driverless cars is that they’re not perfect yet. It will take some more time to become that perfect and accurate. Why?
First, the prototypes have not yet become self-sustaining. They still require skilled drivers to handle any problems. These vehicles have to travel much further to make them useful for someone who can’t drive.
Second, the safety of these driverless cars is still questionable. The recent collision between a bus and a Google driverless car has heightened this concern.
It is believed that if the vehicle had been driven by a human, the collision could have been avoided.
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Skeptics also wonder what if someone hacks these cars? Or what happens if the power runs out or the network drops while running at high speed?
How these cars handle extreme conditions like extreme cold or heat or rain is also something to see. These matters have not yet been satisfactorily confirmed.
Many were not entirely satisfied with driverless cars. But as government restrictions ease, and the more major automakers embrace the technology, the sooner this vision will become a reality.