Imagine working late hours on a Friday night and you’re too tired to drive yet you feel relaxed. You know you just need to set the location and the car itself will drive you to your destination. Pretty cool, right?
It’s now a real possibility as many companies are working on this dream with the likes of TESLA and AutoX being the front runners.
What is an automated car?
An automated car is one that can sense its surroundings and operate without the need for human intervention. At no point is a human passenger necessary to assume control of the car, nor is a human passenger required to be present in the vehicle at all. An automated car can go wherever a regular car can go and accomplish everything a skilled human driver can do.
An automated car is capable of detecting its environment and operating without human assistance. As a result, passengers may or may not take control of the vehicle at any time. Moreover, they may not be even present in the car at all times. An autonomous vehicle can travel anywhere a traditional vehicle can, and do everything an experienced driver does.
Automated cars depend on sensors, actuators, machine learning, complex algorithms, and powerful processors. Using these sensors, the car maps out its surroundings to ensure a safe ride. Sensors include radar sensors, LiDAR, ultrasonic sensors, and video cameras. Radar senses the number of vehicles in our surroundings while LiDAR maps the distance between the vehicles. Video cameras detect traffic signals, road signs, and pedestrians while Ultrasonic sensors determine turns and provide parking assistance.
In fact, there are different levels of autonomy, which are as follows:
Level 0: The automation has no control over the vehicle, although it can warn the driver about potential dangers.
Level 1: The automated system and the driver share control of the vehicle. Most automobiles with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) include examples of this.
Level 2: The automated system can take complete control of the vehicle, but the driver must be prepared to intervene if the system fails to detect a possible threat.
Level 3: The automated system assumes complete control of the vehicle, allowing passengers to safely divert their attention away from driving chores; nonetheless, passengers must be able to intervene if necessary.
Level 4: The driver can safely shift the entire attention away from driving activities and delegate control to the automated system. Currently, this feature is confined to “geofenced” locations and other reasonably regulated environments.
Level 5: There is no need for human involvement.
How does an automated car work?
For generations, experts have experimented with automated cars prototypes. The concept is simple, equip a car with sensors that can track all of the things in its immediate vicinity and have the car respond if it is going to drive into one. Teach in-car computers the laws of the road before releasing them to find their own way to their destinations.
This straightforward summary conceals a great deal of intricacy. Driving is one of the more difficult tasks that humans engage in on a regular basis. Following a set of rules is not enough to drive like a person because humans do things like establish eye contact with other drivers to affirm who has the right of way, respond to weather conditions, and make other decisions that are difficult to codify in rigid rules.
Automated cars employ sensors, actuators, complex mathematical equations and algorithms, machine learning algorithms, and advanced hardware to execute software, that is, driving.
Based on a number of sensors located throughout the vehicle, autonomous automobiles develop and maintain a map of their surroundings. Radar sensors monitor the movement of adjacent vehicles or obstacles. Cameras detect traffic signals, using machine learning, in addition to reading road signs, monitoring other vehicles, and keeping an eye out for pedestrians. By bouncing light pulses off the car’s surroundings, Lidar (light detection and ranging) sensors assess distances, detect road limits, and recognize lane markings. Ultrasonic sensors detect obstructions and other vehicles whilst driving.
After processing all of this sensory data, sophisticated software maps a course and delivers commands to the car’s actuators which control acceleration, braking, and steering. The program follows traffic regulations and navigates obstacles thanks to hard-coded rules, obstacle avoidance algorithms, predictive modeling, and object identification.
Benefits of Automated Cars
When compared to human-driven automobiles, autonomous vehicle technology may be able to offer certain benefits. One such possible benefit is that they might improve road safety – vehicle collisions cause a large number of deaths each year, and automated cars could potentially reduce the number of injuries because the software employed in them is expected to make fewer errors than people. An automated car may be able to minimize traffic congestion by reducing the number of accidents, which is another possible benefit. Automated driving can also do this by eliminating human behaviors that generate roadblocks such as stop-and-go traffic. Another benefit of automated driving is that persons who are unable to drive due to age or disability may be able to use automated automobiles as more convenient modes of transportation.
Additional benefits of autonomous vehicles include the removal of driver tiredness and the ability to sleep on long travels.
All occupants could safely engage in productive or interesting activity, such as replying to emails or watching Netflix, in a completely automated car.
Blind people, for example, are capable of being self-reliant, and automated cars can assist them in living the life they choose.
The real promise of automated cars, however, is the potential to significantly reduce CO2 emissions. Experts identified three trends in a recent study that, if implemented concurrently, would unleash the full potential of self-driving cars: vehicle automation, vehicle electrification, and ridesharing. Above all, by 2050, these trends could:
- Reduce traffic by 30%
- Decrease transportation cost by >35%
- Minimize carbon emission
- Improve walkability and livability
Challenges to Automated Cars
Self-driving cars will have to operate on existing highways, roadways, and city streets. The present infrastructure is not designed for the deployment of automated cars, and as a result, accidents may occur.
In fact, the self-driving car’s every capability has to be programmed in software. This means there are no underground wiring, smart speed limit or turning lane signs, or specialized paint to help the car navigate. This can pose trouble because the roads are rarely predictable and something can happen at any time, and the driver-less car might not be able to cope with these sudden changes.
Automated cars may not be able to navigate through heavy rain or snowstorm that could hide or distort the painted lines on roads and highways.
Automated cars, like any other digital equipment, may be hacked. Any knowledgeable hacker might quickly find out how to manipulate the steering or acceleration of a vehicle. This can jeopardize the riders’ safety in a variety of ways.
Hackers can, for example, take control of an automated car and obtain access to the car owner’s personal information, which the attacker might sell or, more likely, hold for ransom.
There’s also a potential that the system will fail or have an unanticipated problem, causing the computer to behave erratically or cease working completely. When a self-driving car fails while going at high speeds on the road, it can be deadly.
Electromagnetic field radiation can be increased by self-driving automobiles. GPS navigation, GPS tracking tools, remote controls, powered accessories, and other features of an automated car might expose individuals.
Prolonged exposure to Radiation has been linked to a variety of health problems including headaches, migraines, inner agitation, chronic tiredness, insomnia, and infection susceptibility.
Whilst the prospect of owning an automated car is awesome, it’s far from reality.
The advantages of self-driving automobiles are genuine; nevertheless, everything stated so far is still a work in progress.
To begin with, today’s ADAS systems have a long way to go. While many automobiles equipped with ADAS can easily recognize and react to a vehicle in front of them, these systems still struggle to make changes at high speeds.
Furthermore, if an accident occurs and the roadway is covered with harmful debris, the vehicle’s front-facing sensors may not be able to notice every single piece of metal, fiberglass, or anything else spread across the road, resulting in a flat tire and loss of control.
There is also a slew of challenges that come with putting 5G networks in place. While 5G will ultimately be accessible, the extent to which it will be available is yet uncertain.
New tiny cells will need to be installed in a variety of places to construct a 5G network that can be “densified” and function at a constant throughput.
This implies that cellular operators will need to revisit their existing rooftop leasing agreements to identify where enhancements may be made, or engage in new lease arrangements with property owners to create additional cell sites.