An autonomous vehicle refers to “driverless” motor vehicles or cars that drive themselves. This is an idea that is on the cusp of becoming layman reality. The tech is not quite there, but is moving forwarding, fast.
Google have even joined the race with their test vehicle racking up approximately 190 000 miles. Currently all the premium car manufacturers have put driverless vehicle research at the top of their priorities. But, how does it all work? Let’s look at the key technologies involved based on what our main concerns might be.
How will the vehicle know what’s going on around it?
At the highest level of description, the vehicle will have sensors built into the outer panels of the vehicles (think park distance control on steroids). Sensors will emit a laser signal for a precise picture of the world around it, combine this with camera technology as well as radar and you get the full picture. At beginning the hardware took up the entire boot space, but now it’s hardly even noticeable, indicative of the progress that has been made.
How can the vehicle control speed?
The prototypes at the moment use what is called Adaptive Cruise Control technology. Instead of a pre-set speed control like vehicles have today, the driverless cars, with help from its radar will determine speed by monitoring the vehicle in front (if any), but be restricted with speed by the preloaded speed limits within its GPS. The vehicle will also be wary of any sudden obstacles and will employ emergency breaking when necessary.
What is the point of having an exhilarating car if I can’t drive it?
The great thing is that the choice is yours. As with Audi’s test vehicle shown at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, it actually needs the driver to intervene in precarious situations, so the driver is still very necessary. At the tone of a voice command or click of a button, the driving pleasure is all yours again. However, will you want to drive when you see the type of in car entertainment that might be available?
We might still have a way to go, but it is not as long as you may think. Legislation around the world is changing to accommodate the advent of the driverless tech car, with Japan recently approving the use of the Nissan Leaf on public roads albeit for testing. Fasten those seatbelts, as we will soon be receiving a licence to…not drive.
- I have travelled the full spectrum of what technology has to offer. The creature that is my career continued its evolution into the Project Management environment, managing major software development for some major players, right up to implementation, roll out and even training. Changing little, but changing often is my strategy for progress.