It’s no secret that in just a few years, our cars will be able to take us wherever we want to while we relax. That could potentially enhance our quality of life considerably. It may sound fictional or imaginary, but the autonomous vehicle revolution is underway. The fact that self-driving cars have already started being produced is quite impressive. The future of transportation is bright, and self-driving cars are blazing the path.
The driverless technology industry is expected to be worth £900 billion globally by 2025 and is currently growing by 16 per cent a year. Machines, the theory goes, are much better at following rules than humans; motorway signs advising drivers to slow down or not change lane to avoid creating jams are often ignored by motorists – not so a computer. So how do driverless cars work? There are several systems that work in conjunction with each other to control a driverless car.
Radar sensors dotted around the car monitor the position of vehicles nearby. Video cameras detect traffic lights, read road signs and keep track of other vehicles, while also looking out for pedestrians and other obstacles. Lidar sensors help to detect the edges of roads and identify lane markings by bouncing pulses of light off the car’s surroundings. Ultrasonic sensors in the wheels can detect the position of kerbs and other vehicles when parking.
Finally, a central computer (a dedicated software then processes those inputs, plots a path, and sends instructions to the vehicle’s “actuators) analyses all of the data from the various sensors to manipulate the steering, acceleration and braking.
Hard-coded rules, obstacle avoidance algorithms, predictive modeling, and “smart” object discrimination (ie, knowing the difference between a bicycle and a motorcycle) help the software follow traffic rules and navigate obstacles.