It seems as though auto industry insiders, policymakers, and everyday drivers have been predicting for years that self-driving vehicles are the way of the future. Yet for all that talk, you still sit behind the wheel of your vehicle every day and drive yourself to where you need to go. Does the apparent lack of progress on the driverless car front mean that such a notion is closer to science fiction than actual fact? Hardly.
✧ Perfecting Self-Driving Technology
Major automakers and technology companies have been hard at work trying to produce effective and reliable self-driving cars for years. But if their current models were suddenly put out on the roads today, you might see a sharp increase in the need for auto accident lawyers to handle all the expected vehicle collisions that will be happening. Recent years, though, have seen this technology begin to inch ever closer to finding a permanent place amongst available transportation options.
✧ How Do Driverless Cars Work?
The thought of having your car drive for you seems appealing, yet it can also cause apprehension if you don’t understand how the technology works. Self-driving cars integrate a GPS unit, video, radar, laser rangefinder sensors, and a navigation unit to form a deliberative architecture system that actually makes decisions based off roadway data. Simply put, they’re able to develop and maintain a real-time virtual 3-D map of the surroundings, plan an optimal route based off of that data, and convey that information to the vehicle actuators that control them.
✧ Obstacles to Be Overcome
The idea of self-driving vehicles sounds simple, right? Believe it or not, the manufacturers of all the many components that are used to make these new vehicles have made great strides towards fine-tuning this technology, even to the point of conducting successful course and road tests. However, challenges such as gaps in GPS signals and the inability to account for problems related to variable weather and road conditions have yet to replicate the reliability that human drivers (however flawed they may be) can deliver while controlling a vehicle.
A Future Filled with Self-Driving Vehicles
Even with all the difficulties that have occurred during the research and development stage and then attempting to implement the technology with full success, automakers and tech companies are planning on introducing driverless cars to the market within the next few years. Initial incorporation into daily driving activities is likely to be gradual, with drivers relying on self-driving technology only in certain instances. Yet as driverless systems come closer to being perfected, it’s hard to not see a future where such vehicles dominate the roadway.