An Introduction to Autonomous Driving Technology

By Prodosh Kundu    17 Jun,2024

  Digital technology has been incorporated into vehicles for many years now. The digitalization of several important features, like the speedometer, fuel gauge, climate control, and audio systems, has improved the customer experience and vehicle performance.

The advent of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) has seen a huge growth in these digital capabilities in the past few years.

The modern auto industry is focused on developing fully autonomous vehicles by blending innovations that enhance cost-efficiency, convenience, and safety, along with other measures.

In such a case, the cars of the future are expected to move through any kind of traffic unaccompanied by human drivers. 

The History of Autonomous Driving Technology

Autonomous driving technology has come a long way; it has passed through various milestones and relentless improvement. In the 1920s, self-driving vehicles were more of a dream than an actuality.

The first autonomous vehicle prototypes, on the other hand, were radio-controlled cars demonstrated in the 1930s. Nevertheless, these early endeavors were much simpler than they are now.

In the 1980s, Carnegie Mellon University initiated the Navlab project, which paved the way for future improvements in autonomous driving. The following years saw many companies getting interested in this industry, with numerous car manufacturers and tech giants joining in.

Additionally, during the 2000s, there were DARPA Grand Challenges that fostered innovation through competition.

The development of autonomous driving technologies in recent years has been exponential.

Machine learning advancements have led to great strides in sensor technology and computation ability, enabling vehicles to see their environment more accurately, leading to better decision-making capabilities. 

Moreover, we presently live at a juncture where we move from autonomous cars being prototypes to mainstream items within the automobile sector, which will change our commuting patterns drastically.

Essential aspects of independent driving technologies

●Sensors: Cameras, LiDAR, radar, and ultrasonic sensors perceive and construe the vicinity around the vehicle.

●Computer Systems: Such systems evaluate sensor data and employ algorithms to offer solutions as well as govern the vehicle.

●Autonomous Driving Software: The software allows the car to see around it, decide what to do, and take charge of it.

●Communication Systems: The system permits vehicles to link with each other, roads, bridges, and even clouds.

There are different levels at which autonomous driving is classified, each indicating the extent of automation.

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) makes a distinction between six levels, ranging from Level 0, which has no automation, to Level 5, which is characterized by full automation. 

Presently, most commercially available self-driving cars are at level 2, where the vehicle can autonomously steer and accelerate or decelerate within some constraints.

Advancement to higher levels of automation entails overcoming intricate challenges touching on safety, regulation, and infrastructure.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)

Assisted driving capabilities, like Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), are already available in vehicles today. Every model year, automakers add more ADAS features to their cars.

These include adaptive cruise control, auto-emergency braking, lane departure warning, and others. The principal purpose of ADAS is to improve the safety of a vehicle by mitigating risks related to human driver errors.

Nevertheless, even with the most advanced ADAS currently available, they still rely on the driver’s attention in uncertain situations. 

The requirement for ADAS is expected to increase following regulatory pressures and customer desires for apps that guarantee the safety of drivers and passengers as well as accident reduction.

According to various sources, both the U.S. government and the European Union have started making plans to incorporate autonomous emergency braking systems and forward-collision warning systems into every new vehicle moving forward. 

Fully autonomous driving

A car becomes fully autonomous when it can navigate its way from one point to another without any human intervention. Eliminating human errors from driving scenarios is the main purpose of self-driving cars.

Fully autonomous cars are controlled by an onboard computer that uses a combination of sensing systems, such as LiDAR, radar, and cameras, to perceive roadways and surrounding environments. 

These autonomous systems are aimed at operating the vehicle in a safe manner, thereby doing away with human drawbacks like cell phone distractions and drowsy inattention.

Global information and analytics company IHS Markit predicts that the first widespread use of autonomous vehicles will be in mobility service fleets, providing early hands-on experience with the technology and helping build consumer confidence.

According to a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study, about 175 million Americans living in the largest cities within the US will utilize shared autonomous electric vehicle fleets by 2030.

The advantages of self-driving cars

The advantages of self-driving cars range from increased safety to improved use of travel time. Let’s take a look at some of these benefits.

●Safety: In accordance with the World Health Organization, road traffic accidents result in 1.25 million deaths per year, and many more suffer serious injuries in this regard.

In the United States alone, there were over 37,000 fatalities on roads in 2016, with 94% of crashes involving human error. The potential elimination of human error by driverless cars could make roads much safer.

●Improved commutes: traffic congestion and delays cost the average American driver more than 42 hours annually.

Low-cost, convenient transportation options may be offered by shared autonomous electric vehicles (SAEVs), which are projected to account for a significant percentage of miles driven in America by 2030. 

●Fuel Efficiency: Autonomous cars are designed with optimized driving patterns that help reduce fuel consumption, resulting in an overall better fuel economy. This can save a considerable amount of money and also reduce the environmental footprint.

●Much More Freedom: Elderly people and the disabled will enjoy mobility much more if they use automated vehicles.

According to various authoritative sources, reducing transportation obstacles could create new employment opportunities for about two million people with disabilities and save $19 billion annually in healthcare costs from missed medical appointments.

Conclusion

A profound shift in our understanding of and interaction with transport lies ahead, one that predominantly entails autonomous driving technology.

Autonomous vehicles that navigate our highways and streets by themselves, thanks to advancements in automotive technology, are no longer sci-fi dreams but real possibilities. The difficulties ahead notwithstanding, the rewards in terms of utility and safety potential can be great.

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