How Autonomous Cars Work
Autonomous self-driving cars are vehicles that can operate in some capacity without a human driver. They rely on a combination of software and sensors to control acceleration and braking while safely navigating roads. The technology that operates autonomous vehicles is still in its infancy, and there currently aren’t any fully autonomous cars on the road right now. However, there are partially autonomous vehicles on the road right now. These cars still need a human driver to function safely, but certain systems are controlled automatically by the vehicle.
There are different kinds of self-driving technologies that have been developed by companies such as Google, Uber, Tesla, and Nissan. Each of these systems is slightly different from one another, but they typically operate by creating an internal map of their surroundings using sensors, radar, and cameras. They all come equipped with algorithms that allow them to avoid obstacles and brake in emergencies.
Layers of Autonomy
Different cars are assigned to different levels of autonomy by researchers using a scale of 0 to 5. Level 0 cars are not autonomous at all and require human drivers to operate all major systems. Level 1 vehicles can control certain systems such as cruise control and automatic braking, but only one at a time. Level 2 vehicles are similar to level 1 vehicles, except they can control two systems at a time and still require a human driver to operate safely. Level 3 vehicles can operate all major systems and operate independently, but a human driver is still needed and expected to take over in certain situations. Level 4 cars are fully autonomous in most situations, while level 5 cars can function in any scenario without a human driver.
Since we have yet to see self-driving vehicles in action, we don’t know what kind of impact they will have. We do have some ideas and concerns, however. The biggest concern right now is safety. A self-driving car with the right software could be safer than a human driver, but the system might still need some work. Autonomous vehicles might also benefit those who are unable to drive themselves. This would give millions of people across the country more freedom, but it could also negatively impact public transportation.
Although we could be seeing autonomous vehicles on the market sometime in the next few years, there is still much we don’t know about this technology or how it will impact the world. There are definitely some concerns, but the possibility of driverless cars moving safely down the road is an exciting prospect.