The level of technology has continually evolved in our millennial age spreading its wings to almost every industry. One of the sectors that have continuously enjoyed the present sophisticated technology is the automotive industry.
Although the industry has been using technology in making different models of vehicles, the recent development is just overwhelming. It is incredible that soon we might have self-driving cars on our roads. I know you could be wondering what this is all about, but let’s explore together.
What is a Self-Driving Car?
In simple terms, a self-driving car is a vehicle that does not require a human driver to control or operate it. These kinds of vehicles are commonly referred to as driverless cars. Other people refer to them as autonomous.
The release of these vehicles into the market will be a significant advancement in the automotive industry that will see a new revolution across the globe. The combined sensors and the use of various software are what constitutes the navigation of these vehicles.
Although self-driving cars have not been released into the market, there are partial driverless cars and trucks on the United States roads. After many considerations on the ground and debates surrounding these types of vehicles, they could be in the market within the next several years.
Although the entire process is just at its infancy stage, the release of these self-driving vehicles could be a transformative boost not only in driving technology but also in the global economy of nations. The only thing we can do is waiting for the technology to unveil.
How do Self-Driving Cars Work?
With the combined efforts of various researchers, technology companies, and automakers like Uber, Nissan, Google, and Telsa, self-driving technology is gaining its roots in the automotive industry.
Although the design details from each developer vary, the basic design of how these autonomous cars work relies on cameras, sensors, and maps. The system is usually fed with the map of its local region alongside laser beams and sensors.
The information from these radar, cameras, lasers, sonars, and other sensors is sent to the software, which processes it to provide direction to the vehicle. These instructions are sent to the actuators in the car that consequently controls the braking, steering, and acceleration.
The technology uses some coded rules, algorithms, some object discrimination and modeling means to enable it to navigate safely in a city with traffic rules. These fully-autonomous cars can further be split into two: “Connected” and “Non-connected.”
A connected self-driving car can communicate with its surroundings. Such vehicles can easily relate to the infrastructure and other cars on the road. However, most of the current prototypes of driverless cars don’t have this feature; they are non-connected.
The level of autonomy in the automotive industry can be divided into five levels:
Level 0: A human driver fully controls the vehicle.
Level 1: There are specific functionalities that can be controlled by the software like braking. However, the system can only perform one function at a time. It will require a human driver.
Level 2: At this level, the software can perform two or more functions simultaneously. Nevertheless, a human driver is needed for more accurate operation of the car.
Level 3: The vehicle can perform all the critical functions in given situations. It alerts the driver to accord any assistance.
Level 4: The car is fully-automated to function only in specific scenarios and locality.
Level 5: The vehicle does not require a human driver to navigate anywhere. It is fully automated.
But the question remains, how safe are these self-driving vehicles?
Are Self-driving Cars Safer than Human-Driven Ones?
The safety and entire effects that these vehicles will bring into the transportation industry are still hypothetical, and more researches need to be conducted to establish more information on these cars.
However, from the statistics, most motor accidents on the roads caused by human drivers are a clear indication that we need this technology on our streets. Most of the death tolls that we experience every year are as a result of carelessness by human drivers.
By the use of these self-driving cars, hypothetically, they might reduce the multiple road accidents. This is considering that the software in the vehicle is less erroneous compared to a human being.
On the other side, the software can be corrupted, having in mind the many cybersecurity ordeals across the globe. Besides safety issues, the automakers are still considering the environmental effects.
If these autonomous vehicles will be using gasoline, then it means there will be environmental pollution. This is because cars will cover more miles than human-driven ones. Emissions will affect human health.
However, if these cars use electricity, then they will be an excellent deal to the environment and people.
So are these self-driving cars safe for the users? Well, from the many consideration and the benefits attached to the vehicles, they seem to be safer than human-driven and safe for the users. The excitement that these driverless cars are bringing is a clear indication that humans are limited when it comes to road safety.