Sometimes we used to watch fiction movies and see cars driving themselves little did we know one day they will be here with us. BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes are investing and researching heavily in autonomous cars. Google is also developing driverless cars while BMW is said to work with Apple to probably develop driverless cars.
This technology of fully driverless cars is still at the infant stage but somehow simple automation has been in existing for some years. Some cars can be controlled remotely or park automatically. As the investment continues the government is introducing new rules for testing autonomous cars on roads to avoid accidents or unnecessary confusion.
With the huge research in autonomous technology, one may think that this technology is easy and the cars are imminent, unfortunately, this is still not that realistic. Many cons are ethical and technical which threaten our lives.
Google Autonomous car
Google has a good prototype that has 8 sensors that help it interact with the environment around. One of these is the camera on top of it called LIDAR which uses array lasers to see and sense objects around it. This helps it create a 3D map around the car showing it the objects around. It also has a front camera which senses road signs, pedestrians, cyclists and traffic lights. It also has an external aerial that communicates with the GPS satellites and gets geolocation. To give accurate and fine measurements of the vehicle position it has gyroscopes, altimeters, and a tachometer.
These sensors collect accurate data needed for the google car to understand the environment around it and navigate easily. The cameras are affected by the sunlight and sometimes insensitive to traffic lights, unlike the human eye which they replace.
This google self-driving technology is called Waymo LLC. It becomes a stand-alone project in 2016 and started its self-driving taxis in 2017. Waymo one a commercial self-driving car was launched in December 2018 and Phoenix community enjoys the service via a mobile app.
Google started this project in 2009.
To navigate easily many researchers see the need to connect the car with the roads to make autonomous technology more easily. This will help the car receive the signals when it approaches a bump or a zebra crossing. Some companies like Nokia Here mapping service will be used to mark the environment for driverless cars. Nokia Here is making this dream of autonomous cars true by making this invention to the next level of helping cars and roads get connected. This will be easy to attain autonomous cars. It will help combine digital maps with real-time data collected by the vehicle to provide more safe navigation.
Cars will be able to communicate like an emergency vehicle will be able to tell an autonomous car where it’s heading. This means these cars will need better roads to drive effectively.
The main problem with these cars is dealing with pedestrians. The first google accident was caused by human error where a driver hit the google car and it could not respond. Human drivers can understand other drivers but google cars cant communicate with humans. Also, these cars need to learn how pedestrians use roads which is not easy because humans behave differently.
Another major problem is hacking. Imagine leaving your car in a parking area and hacker access it remotely and start the engine and the car starts to drive itself or you are hijacked by a hacker and the car start moving in a different direction and you can’t do anything. Also, these cars can be tricked with fake traffic lights or road signs which can be hazardous.
For the future we hope these cars will improve and they will be able to avoid these challenges like hacking, changing lanes and avoiding a crash. Soon we will be having autonomous cities but its still a dream which seems it might be true.