Self Driving Cars

2 mins read
Autonomous Car

We see cars all around us throughout the day. But in recent times, self driving cars have been a popular technology. These type of vehicles use sensors and cutting edge software to control themselves and stay on track while preventing accident.

LIDAR: Light detection and Ranging is a laser based radar system takes input from GPS (Global Positioning System) and IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit sensors). The GPS sensor these cars use are far superior than the one in our handheld devices. These cars may use internal altimeter (used to measure altitude above the sea level), gyroscopes (to maintain orientation and angular velocity) and tachometers (to measure speed).

There are six levels of autonomous driving:

  • Level 0: A level zero is any ordinary car with no special sensor or attachment to automate its behavior. These types may have proximity sensors at the back to tell the driver if something is on its way but it still needs driver’s action to stop. It might also have a cruise control.
  • Level 1: The cars that belong to this category have some sort of technology embedded that helps the car to control itself based on its surroundings. Lane assist feature falls into this category, where the car can auto steer whenever needed. Radar based cruise control also falls under this category which gives ability to adjust the car’s speed depending on the speed of the car in front of it.
  • Level 2: The cars that fall in this category can drive on their own by controlling its steering acceleration. They also include a self park feature. But this level still requires the driver to be aware of the situation and intervene whenever needed.
  • Level 3: In this level, the car can drive on its own down a normal road or can drive to a destination the driver sets in its map. But this group still lacks a fail-safe requiring a human driver on the driver’s seat. 
  • Level 4: It is just safer than level 3 as it features some fail-safe measures but this category still requires a human driver if anything goes wrong. But the main fail-safe feature of this type of vehicle is that it can abort the drive, and park the vehicle safely if it encounters any situation it can not get out of its own.
  • Level 5: This level is where the car can completely automate its action without any human assistance. There are level 5 concept cars that don’t have any steering wheel. A level 5 car can handle any driving situation that a human can handle.

Some of the advantages of self driving cars are:

  • Car can be programmed to always follow traffic rules. This can help in reduction of road traffic accidents.
  • Disabled people will be able to travel alone in such cars.
  • Passengers can relax in the car while the car self drives.
  • More space available for passengers than the controls.
  • Car efficiency can increase due to proper an efficient usage of car systems.
  • Overnight journeys can be spent sleeping.

Some of the disadvantages of self driving cars are:

  • A small malfunction in the technology used in the car can cause havoc.
  • They will be very costly.
  • Drivers will lose jobs.
  • Issue of responsibility of accidents – will car owner be held responsible or the car company?
  • Since it is basically a computer, hackers can hack into it.

For Wikipedia entry on Self Driving Cars, click here.

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