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TECH: Autonomous Cars Are Coming, Get Ready For Them
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Autonomous Cars Are Coming, Get Ready For Them

By Max Rogers

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In a few years, we will be able to buy a brand new autonomous car. It means that the vehicle won't have steering wheel or pedals and that software and hardware will control the car. For passengers, the only needed action is to choose the destination. Many vehicles of this kind are being developed around the world. Some car manufacturers will soon launch first mass produced cars of this kind. Automated vehicles permitted today on public roads are still not entirely autonomous. Experts revealed that cars will be capable of driving on their own without a driver's assistance by around ten years from now. Some automobile manufacturers have announced that this could be possible even earlier.

When will autonomous cars be available?

According to some British tech companies in the autonomous car industry, self-driving cars will be tested on highways in the Great Britain by 2019. The current "driverless" car testing is focused on city centers and small urban areas. Although those cars will be able to drive completely on their own, there will be a human driver to assist and take over control when needed. Of course, these smart vehicles will have an implanted roadmap. There are four stages of autonomous roadmap technology - eyes off, feet off, hands off and brain off.

Here are the leader car brands in the field that we can expect to see in the coming years -

TESLA: Autonomous car will be available in 2018

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Tesla already offers autopilot feature with its Model S. However, it is in beta testing still. Beta testing means that drivers will help company perfect this technology. A recent update of the feature included additional sensors and radars in order to prevent possible accidents. Their first autonomous car will be available in 2018.

BMW: By 2021

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BMW has been investing funds into ride sharing services for a few years now. A recent agreement with Baidu, Mobileye and Intel will be responsible for launching the first autonomous car, iNEXT in 2018.

FORD: Car without steering wheel and pedals by 2021

Another car manufacturer with a huge potential in autonomous car segment is Ford. They increased the number of engineers in Palo Alto and they already have 30 vehicles testing this technology.

DS, PEUGEOT and CITROEN (PSA) : Autonomous cars will be launched circa 2021

The corporation in question will soon launch a system that steers cars all by itself. In 2020 they will launch hands-free system that eliminates steering wheel and by 2021 they will add an eye-off feature, meaning passengers don't have to look at the direction in which the vehicle is going.

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What technologies are behind autonomous cars?

Autonomous cars will come with a wide range of techniques capable of detecting surrounding objects and obstacles. Some common techniques include computer vision, GPS, laser light, radar, and odometry. Most self-driving autonomous cars use SLAM technology (Bayesian Simultaneous localization & mapping algorithms), which can fuse an off-line map and collected data from different sensors into map updates and location estimates in real time. SLAM involves tracking and detection of surrounding moving objects like cars and pedestrians. Research in this technology is being developed by Google.

There are also simpler systems that use a real-time roadside locating system called RTLS as well as beacon systems to determine a car's current location. Typical sensors include GPS and IMU along with stereo and lidar vision. To recognize visual objects, autonomous cars use machine vision such as neural networks.

Benefits autonomous cars will provide

There are plenty of benefits that these vehicles will provide. The most important are:

Safety - Because computers rarely make mistakes, autonomous cars will be much safer, meaning the roads will be safer as well. According to a research, this tech can save between 40.000 and 140.000 lives per year! Humans or better said drivers cause 94% of accidents, so you can imagine how safer roads will be with autonomous cars.

Cleaner air - Autonomous cars will always find the best route and eliminate the risk of wasting fuel causing more pollution. The ride will be more linear without pointless braking and/or acceleration which can increase fuel consumption. They will also find parking spaces quicker and park in less time than an average driver. All of this means that they will use less fuel and cause less pollution.

Easier travel - With these cars, people who never drove a car will be able to experience all benefits current drivers get. Elderly people, teenagers and those who don't know how to drive a car will be able to reach their destination quickly and safely. As such, business productivity will be improved and transportation will have become much easier.

Bottom line

One way or another, autonomous cars are coming. They are probably the most important technology that we will be able to see in near future. In the real world, they will have dozens of additional benefits and new ones will be developed almost daily.

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