The year is 2020, and so many technological advancements have been made so far; however, one question remains to be asked about the automotive industry.
Where is it heading with its advances in autonomous cars?
With the current semi-autonomous cars currently driving in the market, will we see completely self-driving vehicles shortly? Not exactly, but here is what we know so far.
What are autonomous cars exactly?
As the name states, self-driving cars, aided by AI, machine learning, sensors and robots, sense the environment around them to drive and maneuver safely with no human input.
Using AI, it senses objects, pedestrians, motorbikes, cars, buildings, the roads, traffic lights and anything else on the road. Then, with programming techniques, the vehicle is set to recognize and obey local traffic laws integrated since inception by software developers during development at the manufacturers’.
While there has been a lot of development, we are still far from watching autonomous cars taking over the cities, let alone being produced and released into the market.
What Technology Currently Exists?
Since the first-ever prototyped model of somewhat autonomous vehicles in the 1980s, automizing vehicles’ technology has come a long way.
We see manufacturers such as Tesla produce vehicles that drive semi-autonomously, meaning it still requires some form of human input even though it completes 75% of the driving autonomously.
Other companies such as Google’s sister company, Waymo, Nissan, GM, Toyota & Honda are also jumping on board with such technologies after seeing Tesla, the pioneer of self-driving cars in today’s age, release its first-ever model, which included autopilot on adaptive cruise control settings.
Currently speaking, autonomous cars do autonomously drive; however, they require human interaction to a certain degree. Shortly this is set to be abolished with no human interaction needed for autonomous vehicles to travel and drive around.
Currently speaking, there are five tiers to autonomous cars. These tiers are used to define precisely how autonomous the vehicle can be with or without human interaction. These are the following:
Tier 1: Small steering corrections and accelerations are autonomous; however, everything else requires human interaction.
Tier 2: Like advanced cruise control, can autonomously drive with safety interactions, but the driver must keep hands on the wheel as a safety precaution; otherwise cancels out.
Tier 3: It still requires human interaction but passes most of the automation to the vehicle; This, for some manufacturers, posed many issues, hence why tier 4 exists.
Tier 4: Car drives on its own in most areas, but it’s programmed not to drive on its own in high civilian areas or severe weather conditions; This is where human interaction is limited and is almost fully autonomous.
Tier 5: Full automation in every possible weather condition & area.
Most manufacturers are currently either on Tier 2 or 4, advancing slowly towards full automation in Tier 5. Tier 5 is expected to be delayed due to complexities in research & implementation.
Why Is It Taking Forever To Implement?
In 2010, manufacturers such as Tesla, Waymo & Honda expected to have fully autonomous cars by 2020. This seems in 2020 to be optimistic as we only got delivered semi-autonomous vehicles.
Why is it taking so long if the technology is readily available?
Well, it’s a little more complicated than one can think. In 2010, with the immediate advancement of AI technology, it was supposed to advance so far to have self-driving cars by 2020. However, this did not turn out to be the case.
Manufacturers have concluded that it is more complicated than just AI development. Manufacturers figured the problem was not AI development but also training.
To train an AI-based technology, lots of time, money and effort must go into training methods to make it reliable. For autonomous cars, this means teaching the AI engine to learn how to drive, navigate and travel with no defects.
In 2020, they are now closer than ever before with autonomous driving cars. However, progression has been slow throughout the years and continues to be slow due to the complexity.
What Does Autonomous Cars Mean For Future?
Autonomous cars seem to be a positive movement for the future with its options of comfort and ease. Shortly, people will not be driving in long-distance situations but rather the car taking the owner or passengers the way, eliminating fatigue and other risks on the road.
There has also been speculation and rumors that autonomous cars can be more energy-efficient & eco-friendly. Since driver error can cause unwanted wear and tear on the vehicle, non-efficient driving and increased noise pollution, robotics driving autonomous cars will seek to eliminate all these errors and make it efficient.
Another positive is that more & more cars will be on the roads producing more readily available transportation for the public.
Since they will be automated, arriving on time or avoiding traffic jams will become much easier as autonomous cars are set to eliminate accidents, avoid creating unwanted traffic, and follow all safety regulations & laws.
Since the 1980s, autonomous cars have been prototyped and developed; however, never mass-produced or released for public consumption. In 2010, we saw the creation of Tier 2-4 level autonomous cars that can drive themselves.
In 2020, manufacturers of such vehicles are reaching Tier 3-4 & almost on the verge of reaching Tier 5, the full automation of vehicles. This poses significant advantages in the future and are likely to appear within the next 10-20 years.
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