Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Technology: Driverless cars

Author Bio: 
Mira Jasmin is an enthusiastic blogger from Manchester, UK. In her extra time, she composes articles on many subjects, for example, engineering and travel. She is currently concentrating on driving practical test, which helps to enjoy your self-drive.
Driverless cars are automobiles that navigate using an autopilot system that has them move from one destination to another without any aid from a human driver. Ideally, a human’s role in such a machine would simply be to indicate the destination. Theoretically, such cars would have numerous benefits to the transportation industry such as increasing road capacity, reducing automobile accidents, and making transportation more efficient. 

This technology however faces numerous obstacles in its implantation. This is especially the case where driverless cars would have to navigate alongside non-driverless ones. For the purpose of usefulness, the bare minimum a driverless car would have to fulfil would be to arrive at their destination with the instructions that the passengers provide while safely avoiding other vehicles and obstacles.

Challenges and Benefits 
Some methods by which vested parties propose to meet these goals include coming up with an entirely new infrastructure or altering the existing ones substantially to accommodate this technology. One proposed idea is the development of a monorail where cars can dock. The monorail would then guide the cars to their desired destinations. This would greatly simplify their navigation and reduce collisions. On the other hand, it would require significant changes to the existing infrastructure. Other ideas put forth include the development of a completely new kind of automobile that would operate on existing infrastructure. Such automobiles would operate exactly like their traditional counterparts. Driverless cars would not likely be subject to human error, which is the leading cause of collisions on the roads. 

There would be little if any need for licences, traffic laws, traffic police, or even traffic lights. The automobiles would be unaffected by erratic and jerky human controllers and would therefore be quite able to drive in very close proximity to each other. This could spawn a situation where a high road density would not have any effect on speed such that cars could maintain a close proximity to each other while, at the same time, travelling at average speed. The concept behind autonomous cars currently is that they would be able to move by sensing their surrounding by utilizing technology such as computer vision, GPS, lidar, and radar. The vehicles would additionally be able to keep track of their locations even when in uncharted territory or when conditions change. 

The Current Situation
The technology for driverless cars has slowly been in the works with quasi-autonomous cars dating back to the 1920s. Major companies including Volvo, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, and numerous others are committing resources to the research and development of driverless cars. Some countries such as the US even have legislation that permits the use of driverless cars. These efforts seem to be paying off as predictions show that such automobiles may come into being in the near future. Public opinion on this issue is in favour of autonomous driving if the price were competitive with conventional driving practical test. If the technology were to deliver all that it promises, there are numerous people all over the world who would not only be comfortable with driverless cars, but would actively seek it out. 

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