Until recently, driverless cars were considered part of a science-fiction movie. Meanwhile, it appears that the reality of cars driving themselves is getting closer.
How does an autonomous car work?
In a nutshell, such a vehicle is equipped with a number of cameras that watch all the objects moving around and reacts when it senses the close proximity of one of them. In such situations it attempts to avoid the object or brake. In addition, it uses what is called lidar, which is a method of estimating the distance to objects by bouncing light and sound off things. The system that controls the car is “taught” all the rules of the road, so it will know at what speed to move, when to give way, etc.
Is an autonomous car safe?
Both yes and no. There is a lot of debate about the safety of self-driving vehicles all the time. The whole problem is that in addition to knowing the rules of the road and observing other road users, unpredictable things can happen while driving, to which a person sitting behind the wheel is able to react, and the car, which is not programmed to act in such situations, will do nothing
So the topic of autonomous cars raises a lot of concerns and doubts for a reason, but you can look at it from another angle. The first airplanes were also dangerous and commercially useless, but since then we have improved them considerably.
What stage are we at?
It’s hard to say because the companies that are working on the technology we’re discussing aren’t releasing much data. What we do know is that the world’s first drive of an autonomous car on public roads took place in 2015 in Texas. Nathaniel Fairfield – Waymo’s chief engineer offered his blind friend such a ride. The car had no steering wheel or pedals
As of May 10, 2018, autonomous cars are allowed to take passengers on board in the state of California
Elon Musk (owner of Tesla) announced that autonomous cars appear on our roads in 2021. Meanwhile, in one of his recent statements, he admitted that work on the self-driving Tesla is only at Level 2 (semi-autonomous driving, which requires human supervision), and Level 5 (fully autonomous driving) will not be achieved until the end of this year.
Not if, but when?
It is impossible to set one specific date. Autonomous cars still leave many uncertainties and until manufacturers are convinced that they are completely safe, they will not release them on the roads. Besides, it’s unclear if these vehicles would be received as well as their creators anticipate. A survey of Americans found that a small fraction (9%) would buy one right away, a larger fraction (38%) say they would wait a while, and half say they would never use one. Then there are the legal issues, which are very complicated.
Considering all the aspects discussed above, it seems that autonomous cars are on their way to slowly entering our everyday reality. We can expect big changes in the automotive and transportation market in the next few years.
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