The Future of Driving is Self-Driving Cars

The Future of Driving is Self-Driving Cars

This is a general outline regarding some aspects of self-driving cars. It includes explaining the difference between autonomous and self-driving vehicles, what a self-driving car is, how it works, and when cars should be available to the general public. It gives a generally positive impression of self-driving cars.

At some point in the relatively near future, self-driving cars will be part of everyday life for millions around the world. In the meantime, there is currently a race between major companies to develop the first commercially viable self-driving vehicle. So, what should we know about this important technological advance in driving?  Here is some information about self-driving vehicles and when you can expect to see self-driving cars on roads near you.


What is a self-driving car?

A self-driving vehicle is one that can drive with little or no human interaction. There is an important distinction between self-driving vehicles and autonomous vehicles. Self-driving vehicles need some human control, whereas autonomous vehicles need no input at all from a human. The classification of the driving ability of autonomous cars is divided into 5 levels.

The levels defining autonomous driving skills for a vehicle are as follows:

  • Level 1-The car has some automation, such as blind-spot detection or lane control detection.


  • Level 2 - The automated system assists the driver with things like automatic braking, advanced cruise control, and assisted parking. The driver is still in control of the vehicle at other times.


  • Level 3- An automated system can take over part of the driving and monitor the surroundings. However, the human driver can take back control whenever necessary. A similar system is already available in cars manufactured by Tesla and Mercedes.


  • Level 4- The automated system monitors the car's surroundings and conducts the driving to some extent without the human needing to take control. However, this is only possible in certain locations/environments. This type of SAE level is currently tested by Uber, Samsung and Google, amongst others.


  • Level 5 - The automated system performs every driving task a human would normally perform in every type of environment. Only levels 4 and 5 are considered to be autonomous driving. All these SAE levels should be seen primarily as a guide. As self-driving technology constantly develops, a vehicle could also be placed between certain levels.


How do self-driving cars work?

A self-driving vehicle maneuvers using a combination of technologies such as radar, cameras, lidar (a kind of radar sing lasers) as well as additional artificial intelligence and computers. With numerous sensors integrated with detailed map database information, it constantly monitors its environment around the car as well as performing the actual driving. The sensors process every bit of information regarding the surroundings while also being able to react quickly to unexpected events and obstacles that can appear. Naturally, driving safely in a busy urban environment is far more complicated than driving in quieter rural surroundings. It's this challenge of designing a car that can drive in every environment safely, which is currently one of the main goals for autonomous car manufacturers.


Are autonomous vehicles safe?

Some people, such as Elon Musk, say autonomous vehicles are safer than human drivers because they eliminate human error and, according to some studies, human error accounts for more than 90% of traffic accidents.

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