The autonomous car, which drives itself and takes us, is an ever closer reality. We have seen them for many years in the movies and it may soon be a common sight on our streets.
Do you know what the history of the autonomous car is? How do they work or what advantages do they have?
We tell you everything you need to know about the self-driving car , because it is going to change our lives.
What is an autonomous car
An autonomous vehicle is one that does not need control by human drivers to drive safely .
From cars to self-driving trucks, the autonomous vehicle is still in its early stages, but it is set to revolutionize transportation, both for people and goods.
How does an autonomous car work?
Since they don’t have a human driver using their eyes, arms, or legs to drive the vehicle, self-driving cars rely on sensors of all kinds . For example, Uber’s self-driving cars use 64 lasers along with other sensors, while Google’s prototypes are using everything: lasers, radar, sonar (like boats), and high-powered cameras.
Although each autonomous car uses them in a different way, the essence is that they all build a map of the situation, in real time and in 360 degrees .
From there, taking into account the destination, traffic regulations and what is happening around them, they make the best possible decision to drive safely.
That task belongs to the car’s processor (like a computer) that analyzes the information and manages the actuators , which control the steering wheel, the brakes, the accelerator, etc.
Through algorithms, predictive models or artificial intelligence, the autonomous car is capable of driving, reacting and learning in its environment. With the advancement of other technologies, such as 5G, we will see autonomous cars permanently connected and exchanging information with each other. This allows you to find out optimal speeds, weather conditions, traffic jams on the route, etc.
Are there already 100% autonomous cars?
In research labs, yes. However, not even in the United States, which is the most advanced country on this issue, there are still 100% autonomous cars that are legal to circulate on public roads.
Researchers typically classify self-driving cars into levels ranging from 0 to 5.
Level 0 is a traditional car, which must always be driven by the human driver. A level 5 is a 100% self-driving car in any situation. A level 1 would be a car capable of automatically controlling one service at a time, such as a brake, a level 2 would allow several simultaneous functions, etc.
Thus, we see autonomous cars capable, for example, of parking alone. However, such automatic search and parking is usually only possible in very optimal situations.
When did the first autonomous car appear?
The first attempts were seen in the 1920s, but they were actually radio-controlled cars . Although they could move without the intervention of the person in the vehicle, another human had to drive it remotely.
The following decades saw curious prototypes, but with systems that were very difficult to apply. Cars that relied on roadside circuits or streetcar-style cables sowed today’s seeds.
Around 2005, the first real hits were seen , albeit limited. The American army proposed challenges for driverless vehicles to travel a route and avoid obstacles, and finally some that succeeded began to be seen.
It wouldn’t be until the 2010s when the big car brands started to test what we are seeing today.
How is the autonomous car going to change our way of living and driving?
The autonomous car holds many promises. Its proponents claim that it will change our cities, the way we use the car and our entire daily lives.
Some of those changes are:
- Cities without traffic jams or parking problems
The self – driving electric car will become a service and not something you own . Fleets of automated cars will drive around the city and you’ll pick them up and drop them off at your convenience.
You will not have to look for parking, because the car will go to pick up someone else who calls it. Or, if it’s your own car, it will park or go home, and come back for you at the time you tell it.
This will reduce traffic jams, as there are fewer cars in circulation and they coordinate to choose the best route and avoid traffic jams.
- Cleaner cities
Being electric, emissions into the atmosphere will be zero . In addition, noise pollution will also decrease.
- Fewer accidents
Advocates of the autonomous car claim that a vehicle collects much more data in 360 degrees (something impossible for a human driver) and its processor has better reaction times than those of a person.
Similarly, an autonomous car will never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, putting an end to accidents of this type.
- Better freight logistics
A self-driving vehicle doesn’t get tired and doesn’t have to stop, except to refuel. That will completely change road transport, which can also be better coordinated.
As we can see, the autonomous vehicle holds important promises that will change everything. Will it be so? We may see it sooner than we think.