What are driverless cars?
Driverless cars (also known as self-driving cars) are cars that never require human drivers to have control to run the vehicle safely. They combine sensors and software for controlling the vehicle, navigating, and driving. They are also known as autonomous cars.
When a car operates in a mode where it is not managed and supervised by anyone, it is said to “drive itself”. A car can drive itself due to the combination of several technologies, such as artificial intelligence, data science, and machine learning working harmoniously to control the automation process.
The automotive industry is entering an era of transformative change, a key element of which is the driverless car. Though still early in life, the technology of self-driving becomes increasingly popular and can dramatically change our transport system (and by extension, our economy, and society).
How does a driverless car work?
The primary control system of the autonomous vehicle is the software. Unlike conventional automotive vehicles where most of the vehicle components are controlled mechanically by a driver. Driverless cars need some software to do this for
- Road navigation
Autonomous cars generate and retain a map of their environment based on a range of sensors located in various parts of the vehicle. The car uses electronic maps to determine routes to its destination. The vehicle must first generate a map of its surroundings and locate itself within the map before taking any decisions about navigation. This gets better as maps can be updated frequently to get a better and shorter route to the desired destination.
- Object identification
Self-driving cars use machine vision for visual object recognition. In self-driving cars, the proximity to other vehicles, pedestrians, and other things on the road is determined by using sensors. The control systems will analyze sensory data and accurately identify other vehicles and the road ahead. This incredibly sensitive mechanism helps to prevent collisions with other vehicles.
The vehicle must use its GPS to determine its location in relation to other map objects.
- Traffic lights detection
Traffic lights are detected by video cameras, which often read road signs, monitor other cars, and check for pedestrians.
- Detecting other vehicles
Radar sensors keep an eye on the movement of surrounding vehicles. The car relies on sensors, actuators, intelligent systems, machine learning algorithms, and efficient processors.
- Distance calculation.
Lidar (light detection and ranging) sensors measure distances, track road edges and distinguish lane markers by bouncing light signals off the car’s surroundings.
What technologies do driverless cars depend on?
Self-driving cars require several technologies working together some of which include
- Machine Learning and Deep Learning
This artificial intelligence method, at its most basic level, teaches the car to detect lane lines and recognize cyclists by exposing them to millions of examples of the subject at hand. Since the world is too complicated to write a rule for any conceivable situation, cars can then learn from their mistakes and navigate on their own.
- Artificial Intelligence
The car’s AI program is linked to all sensors and gathers data from them, make decisions, and serves as the central controlling system of car.
- Computer Vision
Computer vision will enable self-driving vehicles to capture mages, traffic signals, detect obstacles, and avoid collisions and accidents.
- Data Science
The driverless car has a sophisticated system that generates a massive amount of data for real-time processing such as traffic conditions, road maintenance, and crowded areas and others that help the car make vital decisions.
Benefits of self-driving cars
At first glance, the biggest benefit of an autonomous vehicle seems to be the freeing of the driver’s hands from the steering wheel. However, the true transformational benefit is of self-driving vehicles exceeds this.
Some benefits of include:
- Eliminate the stress of driving and offer more productive time during trips.
Driving oneself requires an amount of concentration on navigating the road. Self-driving cars will help to eliminate the tasks of driving and navigation chores, thereby replacing behind-the-wheel commuting hours with more time to work, rest and have fun.
- Reduction in number of road accidents.
A large percentage of road accidents are due to human errors. Self-driving cars have the potential of overcoming these error since they operate based on programmed instructions; Thus saving more lives.
- Reclaim parking space for other purposes.
In today’s cities, one of the most pressing issues is parking. Self-driving vehicles can improve growth and home availability while also freeing up parking space since it can drive itself back home and return anytime needed.
- Reduced traffic congestion
Completely improved road capacity and reduced traffic congestion, as a result of lower safety disparities and higher speed limits, can be additionally beneficial.
- Autonomous vehicles will also help children and adolescents who are unable to drive themselves to school. Daycares and schools will devise automated pick-up and drop-off schemes by vehicle, reducing reliance on parents and childcare staff.
- No more driving restrictions.
Self-driving cars will eliminate driving restrictions since no input from a driver is needed for the car to function properly, making it to use your car under any circumstance.
- Personalized for people with disabilities
The elderly and people with disabilities (such as those who are deaf, blind, have restricted mobility) will benefit from self-driving cars.
Self-driving car challenges
Despite its potential benefits, vehicle automation could pose its own set of challenges. Some of which includes: user reluctance to relinquish driving control, loss of situational mindfulness, loss of driving abilities, communication problems with non-autonomous vehicles in mixed traffic situations, increased vulnerability to program and hardware bugs, as well as cyber-attacks and the loss of driving-related jobs are just a few examples.