Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Driving Driverless

The Driverless Cars

A driverless or autonomous car is a vehicle that is able to sense its surroundings and navigate without human control. A lot of such vehicles are being developed currently.

Automobile companies such as Ford, Mercedes and Tesla are there in the scene to build autonomous vehicles. The Google self-driving car project Waymo is advancing so fast that it has covered over 2.5 million miles as self-driven test ride.

Advancement in electronics and computing technology have gradually been automating several driving functions in the last decades. Experiments have been conducted on self-driving cars since 1920s. In July 2013, Vislab demonstrated a driverless vehicle BRAiVE which moved autonomously on a mixed public traffic route.

Driverless Cars: How do they work?

It’s same as planes fly on autopilot mode. Driverless cars can take control of driving tasks such as steering, accelerating, braking, cruise control, indicating, anti-lane drift, self-parking. Self-driving vehicles use sensors, computer vision, GPS and Lidar(a remote sensing technology) to move from one location to other.

The sensory information is then processed using high end computers to navigate the suitable pathways for the vehicle to advance, avoiding the obstacles and same time, obeying the road signs and signals.

The self-driving car uses a digital map, which will be continuously updated as per the sensory input. This allows the vehicle to respond to the changing situations, and to travel through unknown and unfamiliar territories.

Automated Vehicles Classification

Self-driving vehicles can be classified as below:
A: Driver has total control of vehicle all the times.
B: There are some vehicle controls which are automated, for e.g. automatic braking.
C: More than one control can be automated simultaneously, for e.g. cruise control and lane keeping.
D: The driver can give up control in certain situations
E: Driver is not needed to play any part in the driving process at all.

Advantages of Driverless Cars

  • Driverless cars will be safer, because 80% of car crashes are caused by driver error. There would be no bad drivers, drunk and drugged drivers on the road if cars are driverless.
  • Travel times can be reduced drastically as the vehicle can automatically increase speed as per the traffic situation.
  • There will be no fatigue and tiresomeness due to continuous driving.
  • Sensors can see far ahead than human senses, so it can detect smaller obstacles on the road.
  • Car will park itself; no need to waste time finding a parking place.
  • Self-driving cars can save on fuels due to efficient and smooth driving
  • Passengers will experience a smooth and comfortable riding.
  • There will be no need for driving licenses or tests. People of any kind like disabled, elder citizens also can enjoy the car travel without a driver.
  • Autonomous cars are more self-aware, so car thieves have no hope any more.

Disadvantages of Driverless Cars

  • Driverless cars will be more expensive.
  • A computer malfunctioncan cause crashes or big accidents.
  • Hackers can intrude into the vehicle's software and controlits operation.
  • Heavy rain can interfere with roof-mounted laser sensors, and snow can block the cameras.
  • Terrorists can load self-driving cars with explosives and able to send to the desired target.
  • Truck and taxi drivers maylose their jobs
  • Human signals like hand signals are difficult for a computer to understand.

Software Languages Used:

Some of the software languages used on the self-driving vehicles are as below:
  • C++
  • Python
  • Matlab
  • Java

New Autonomous Vehicle Software

Oxbotica, an Engineering Science Research Company has developed a new software system for converting regular cars into driverless vehicles.

The systemcalled Selenium can take in data through visual cameras, laser scanners, or radar systems. Then, through a series of algorithms,the system can identify where the car is now, and what surrounds the car, and how it can move smoothly to the target location, avoiding the obstacles.

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