Self-Driving Cars: The Next Generation of Automobiles

We ride our cars daily or at least use public transportation and it is almost impossible for us to imagine the world without it. But if you haven’t heard about automation and the developments in Artificial Intelligence it may sound insane of a car been driven without human input.

The first affordable car was the Ford Model T and it changed the definition of private transportation. The big steps in this industry after the contribution of Henry Ford was the Volkswagen and then the rise of Japan in automobile industry.

We have transcended into the Information Age and computer has taken over most of the aspects of life, vehicles being no exception. With the research and development at such a progressive pace it is not much far away that we will see automated cars.

Google and Tesla are the main contenders and have invested a significant amount of effort and money in the research of self-driving cars.

But how can a car be driven on its own?

By a computer.

The main obstacles for replacing a human input is the movement or particularly detection of the object, and a detail of the surroundings.

The technology used by both the companies are different, Google uses LIDAR ( Light Detection and Ranging) whereas Tesla uses RADAR ( Radio Detection and Ranging).

LIDAR is highly precise but comes with a huge price tag whereas RADAR is comparatively less precise but is affordable.

LIDAR uses light sensors to form a detailed image of the surrounding and inputs it in the car’s computer. Then car processes the information and guides the car accordingly.

On the other hand, RADAR emits Radio Waves and give the details about the reflected ones to the computer, and then the computer does the same as in LIDAR.

A Tesla Model S which was claimed to be a self-driving car, crashed into a trailer in northern Florida due to technical error and the driver was killed in the accident. According to the company it was an error in crash-avoidance system and since the car was not fully automated the driver still needed to control it. Experts say that accident could have been avoided if LIDAR was being used.

Due to difference in detection technology the driving experience and cost of the vehicle varies a lot. Since the automated cars are still in research phase, the future progress and the specifications of the car might change. The car is expected to be less expensive and to have a higher safety measures.

Hope one day in near future we will see a car on the road without human driver being driven perfectly.


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Abhinav Choudhary

Naive as a human, veteran as an opinionist.