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Self-driving cars are in the ascendant, but there are a few impediments in their way. People familiar with autonomous vehicles may be familiar with some of the benefits of this new technology. You might be wondering how these vehicles actually work before you take a ride in one of them. Without any human intervention, a driverless vehicle reduces accident rates, congestion, and even emissions. This article will explore some reasons for the appeal of self-driving cars, as well as some of the mechanics involved.
Humanity is prone to making errors
Over half of all crashes are caused by human error, and behind-the-wheel mistakes often have catastrophic consequences. Recent studies show this is the case as over 90 percent of accidents are caused by human error. In this context, self-driving cars come into play. What have they to offer in terms of saving lives?
- The cars are safer because they don’t get affected by drivers’ fatigue, emotions, or illnesses, which makes them far safer than human-driven cars.
- There would be little chance of the car making a mistake as it is constantly observing and aware of its surroundings, scanning multiple directions.
- A self-driving car would mean safer roads, which would lead to fewer emergency response services, lower insurance premiums, and for everyone, a reduction in accident-related illness.
How Do Self-Driving Cars Work?
We have finally made technological advances in recent years that have enabled autonomous cars to become a reality. Autonomous cars can only exist today because of three technologies:
- Internet of Things sensors – Today, autonomous vehicles are made possible by many types of sensors. The navigation of a self-driving car is supported by blind-spot sensors, forward collision warnings, radar, cameras, LIDARs, and ultrasonics.
- IoT Connectivity – As self-driving cars operate in the cloud, they can take advantage of traffic data, weather forecasts, maps, and current road conditions among others. This helps them monitor their surroundings better and make better decisions. They need to be connected to the internet even when small computing tasks can be handled locally by edge computing hardware.
- Software Algorithms – In order to determine the most effective course of action, the data collected by the car must be analyzed. Control algorithms and software perform this duty. Considering that it is supposed to make decisions flawlessly, it is the most complicated part of the self-driving car. A “flaw,” such as the accident involving Uber’s self-driving car, can be fatal.
It’s Google and Tesla that’s leading the charge
Most famous today is those made by Tesla and Google. Tesla cars analyze their environment using a software system called “Autopilot.”. With Autopilot, high-tech cameras are used to view and gather data about the world using what’s known as ‘computer vision’ – sophisticated image recognition technology. It interprets this data and makes decisions accordingly. Earlier, I stated that Tesla’s self-driving cars are already on the market today.
Google, on the other hand, uses LIDAR to make its self-driving cars. The lidar can be compared to radar, except it uses light instead of radio waves. This sensor technology allows Google’s cars to function without a steering wheel or pedals.