From Transformers to Terminator- Hollywood has tried to present to us near to real scenarios on how the world would be if we had driverless and autonomous electric four-wheelers. What if we had self-driving cars that run on their own? Sounds cool right! Read on to find out all about driverless and autonomous electric four wheeler.
What is an autonomous (also called driverless/ self-driving) car?
An autonomous or self-driving or driverless car can move on its own without human input. It can perform all the necessary functions of driving such as moving from a starting point to a given destination, park itself, navigate and what not!
Also called robo-cars (robotic), driverless autonomous electric four wheeler use advanced AI (Artificial intelligence) and Machine learning (ML) systems to map and interact with surroundings and among themselves. Complex sensors and advanced computer vision functions are constantly used to update maps, measure distances, uneven surfaces, and detect the presence of nearby vehicles.
You will be amazed to know that a number of companies in the automobile industry such as Audi, BMW, Ford, Google, General Motors, Tesla, Volkswagen, and Volvo are developing and testing on technology to make autonomous cars a reality. One such project is Google’s self-driving car called ‘Waymo’.
Types of automation
There can be different types of driverless four wheeler depending on their level of automation. There are five levels of automation ranging from AI assisting humans in driving to virtual driver AIs(completely autonomous).
These cars have:
- Hands-free steering
- Adaptive cruise control (ACC) down to a stop which maintains a safe distance from other drivers
- Lane-centering steering makes sure the car does not cross lane markings
We have achieved four levels of automation. Scientists are working on achieving the fifth level of automation.
Like any other technology, even going driverless has its negative and positive aspects. In the next section, we will explore the pros and cons of driverless and autonomous electric Four wheeler.
Pros of driverless cars
1. Safety on roads
According to government data, more than 4 lakh road accident cases were reported in India in 2019. Also, the fatalities have increased by 1.3% approximately. The situation is horrible. Right!
Well, no need to worry because this crisis can be easily solved with driverless autonomous four wheeler. The car’s AI, with its precision, will improve road safety. Further, this will greatly minimize the room for human errors while driving.
According to Elon Musk, “Self-driving cars are the natural extension of active safety and obviously something we should do”.
In the words of the Facebook owner- Mark Zuckerberg- “If you recognize that self-driving cars are going to prevent car accidents, Al will be responsible for reducing one of the leading causes of death in the world.”
Autonomous cars will bring a revolution on the road.
2. Assistance to the disabled and elderly
Driverless cars will change the lives of the people who face difficulty while moving. It will make them less dependent on drivers and allow them to have the freedom to travel at their wish.
3. Self- parking
Many of us must have faced difficulty in parking or in finding a suitable place to park. Trust me the skill to park needs great precision. Moreover, it is amazing to know that the driverless cars can park themselves, identify the suitable place and the cars can even coordinate for well-organized parking.
4. Travel at great speed
If you think that the driverless car will take its own sweet time to complete one trip, you’re mistaken! You’ll be relieved to know that the case is just the opposite. The computer with high precision will not only regulate the highways safely but also allow you to travel at a higher speed. So you can just rest with your head back while the autonomous car performs all the driving functions for you.
5. Save the police’s time
When roads will run smoothly, the police will have more time to focus on other crimes. This will significantly reduce their workload and help to improve law and order.
6. Alternative to solve the fuel crisis
All of us know how limited petrol and diesel are. Keeping that in mind, electric vehicles seem to be a good alternative. Plus with some innovations, we may be able to use renewable energy resources such as solar energy to drive these. This will help us in the long run.
Cons of autonomous cars
1. Increased threat from hackers-
When all the cars will be connected to one network, it will increase the vulnerability of hackers. Also, the car can be tracked through the same network. This is not so desirable and will affect your privacy.
2. Loss of jobs
With autonomous cars, lorry and taxi drivers will lose their jobs. Driving is the second-fastest-growing job in India. There are more than 150 million drivers. In addition, this will increase the pressure on the government to provide them with jobs.
3. Loss of driving skills
Practice makes perfect. However, in a scenario where all that people have to do is sit with their head back, it is a high possibility that people will lose their driving skills over time. Further, this will put them in a difficult situation if they have to drive.
4. Glitches and accidents
With technology, comes the possibility of errors and glitches in the coding. Though the autonomous vehicle will reduce the accidents on an average, glitches can lead to crisis situations and even accidents that a human driver could have averted easily.
5. Not suitable for all weather conditions
Even technology has its limitations. As the sensors and cameras won’t work in the snow, debris, or rain. However, it is important to maintain optimum temperature for smooth functioning of the car which cannot always be controlled.
6. Heavy investment for new roads and layouts-
Autonomous cars can only run on a road specially built to suit their functioning. Now this will require a lot of money. Especially in developing countries where the basic amenities like food and water are scarce, sparing a huge amount of money is not feasible.
7. Challenges of electric vehicle
People are not supportive of electric vehicles because they are costly and need charging. According to a Bloomberg article, in India, which is the fourth-largest auto market in the world, only 8,000 out of 150 million drivers want electric cars.
Still, we cannot ignore the fact that driverless autonomous cars are the future. Though the road is long, we need to be positive about it. A cybercrime-proof driving system needs to be established to win the trust of people and turn this dream into a reality. This can be best put in the words of German Computer scientist Sebastian Thrun- “The potential here is enormous. Autonomous vehicles will be as important as the Internet.”
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