After talking about the Future of wireless connected cars in a previous article, let’s take a look at what the future holds for self-driving cars.
It is widely acknowledged that autonomous driving, in addition to electric cars, holds great promise for the future of mobility. These days, self-driving cars are not just a thing of the future. They are already present on global roadways.
Autonomous vehicles are already operating in some locations without the assistance of a human, so anyone who thinks they are just a futuristic creation of science fiction is gravely misinformed. That makes sense, particularly when you consider parallel parking. However, let’s go back to the beginning.
Autonomous driving: What is it?
Driverless car research began in the 1980’s at the Bundeswehr University in Munich and a private university in the United States. One can observe how far development has come so far from the numerous research associations and manufacturer cooperations. The manufacturers of cars Mercedes, Volvo, BMW, Intel, Mobileye, Nissan, Honda, Tesla, and many more are vying for the title of best artificial driving intelligence. However, Chinese automakers like Nio and Co. are also advancing this field very significantly.
Since the technology is already so sophisticated, it doesn’t require human assistance to take control of the vehicle. In the future, it will be determined whether or not this is even allowed in the relevant nation and how much the technology will impact traffic. Different levels of autonomous driving are covered in detail in the following chapter.
Levels of autonomous driving
It is commonly known that there are a lot of misconceptions about autonomous vehicles. But contrary to popular belief, driverless cars are not that far off from the real world. Currently there are several different levels of autonomy which are as follows:
Level 0: No self-driving cars
Drivers operate the vehicle independently and with complete control.
Level 1: Using assistance systems to help with driving
While they still operate their vehicles independently, drivers are assisted by features like distance control.
Models at this level: almost all contemporary vehicles available as new cars today come equipped with assistance features like cruise control or lane departure warning systems.
Level 2: Driving that is partially automated
Although they can automatically keep their car in its lane, brake, accelerate, or even park, drivers still need to keep a close eye on everything.
Models at this stage: Examples of this degree of automated driving include the Tesla Model 3 and Mercedes S-Class vehicles’ autonomous parking assistance.
Level 3: Autopilot, or highly automated driving
The vehicle maintains its lane, changes lanes on its own initiative, and signals. Sometimes a driver can focus on something else, but when the car senses that it needs to intervene, it will alert the driver.
Models at this stage: Not to be overlooked is the Mercedes S-Class, which is capable of autonomous driving, passing, braking, and acceleration.
Level 4: Completely driverless
Every aspect of driving is controlled by the vehicle. As soon as the system is unable to complete the tasks, drivers step in.
Models at this stage: This degree of autonomous driving is still illegal for automobiles to display on public roads. Nevertheless, automakers like Mercedes, Volvo, and Audi are now testing this version.
Level 5: Driving on its own
Without pedals or a steering wheel, a car can operate entirely without a driver; human intervention is only needed to choose the route’s beginning and end.
Models at this stage: The leader in autonomous driving is Waymo, which runs a fleet of robot taxis in a Phoenix, Arizona suburb. Neither Mercedes nor the US automaker Tesla, which recently made headlines for an accident while operating in autonomous mode, are the most advanced in the development of self-driving cars. Certain cars run completely without the need for safety drivers or other staff members.
Benefits and drawbacks of autonomous vehicles
Benefits of driving autonomously
- A decrease in traffic deaths
- Participation of senior citizens
- Inclusion of individuals with disabilities
Do the benefits or drawbacks of autonomous vehicles outweigh each other is one of the most crucial questions surrounding the subject of this technology? According to the US-based RAND Corporation, the advantages outweigh the hazards by a wide margin. Why is that the situation? An estimated ninety percent of auto accidents are the result of human error. Some experts believe that cars with autonomous thinking and steering could eliminate traffic fatalities entirely.
Inclusion of the elderly or those with disabilities, as well as a decrease in the global car population, are further advantages. Even though driving can be challenging as one ages, it allows people to continue pursuing interests outside of the house.
While not common, private vehicle sharing is used to some degree. Merely twenty percent of the current fleet of cars would be required if self-driving cars were to become the norm as taxis. This would have a significant impact on the automotive industry’s sustainability.
Drawbacks of driving autonomously
- Hacker risk
- Technology unreliability
- Ethical and moral decision-making ability of AI
Of course, issues with the technology shouldn’t be disregarded: Anxiety about cyberattacks or technology malfunctions is a major concern for people considering self-driving cars.
Concerns about morality and ethics also arise when it comes to the artificial intelligence (AI) that powers autonomous driving systems’ computations and behavior. It is necessary to ascertain the car’s ethical principles in a dangerous situation and whether it is capable of differentiating between actual and perceived danger.
But the technology is being portrayed in a more favorable light because it is widely believed that as autonomous cars become more commonplace, the number of traffic fatalities will decline. The next issue that has to be addressed is whether or not we are willing to accept a decrease in traffic fatalities as a result of other factors that could be attributed to autonomously operating technologies rather than deliberate human action. Is a decision-making algorithm that operates on its own not also created by humans and therefore driven by their actions? If there is an accident, who is at fault? No one? The vehicle? The formula? The chauffeur? Or the AI’s manufacturer?
All of these are philosophical issues that require discussion in this particular setting.
Autonomous driving: Each manufacturer’s situation
What is the manufacturers’ position on autonomous driving? The degree of automation found in various well-known automakers’ models is briefly summarized here.
Mercedes: Driverless operation
Level 3 autonomous driving is achievable for the S-Class and EQS models with the so-called Drive Pilot. Put more specifically, this indicates that both cars are theoretically capable of performing every traffic maneuver on their own. Drivers may be able to focus on other tasks in certain situations, but they always need to be prepared to return to driving duties when called upon.
Although the Tesla Full Self-Driving application is still in beta, development is still ongoing to enable Level 3 autonomous driving in Tesla vehicles. Although the program is theoretically available to all drivers, it is also quite expensive. Whether you drive a Model 3, Model S, Y, or X makes no difference.
In an effort to work with Qualcomm, Bayerische Motorenwerke is introducing autonomous vehicles gradually. Up until that point, the company will test level 3 driving. By 2025, autonomous vehicles are expected to be on the market. In vehicles like the BMW 7 Series or its electric sibling, the i7, Level 2+ is already achievable; both are capable of handling all pertinent duties while driving on the highway, provided that the driver maintains a close observation of the road conditions.
Audi: Driverless operation
Like other automakers, Audi is aiming to introduce Level 3 autonomous driving in Germany. In theory and in practice, the 2017 Audi A8 could already drive and steer itself, but the relevant regulations had not yet been added to the Road Traffic Act. The test of an Audi Q8 equipped with level 4 autonomous driving is currently the most talked-about topic in the world of self-driving automobiles at Audi.
Future prospects for self-driving cars: Projections and opportunities
As we already know, autonomous vehicles have existed for a while. How high the degree of automation is the constant question. In ten years, most cars in this nation may be equipped with assistance systems that relieve drivers of some of the work involved in stopping and changing lanes. The dream of autonomous driving should come true sooner thanks to so-called LiDAR sensors, which are currently being developed and used in a variety of cars.
However, the world will still need to exercise patience for some time if we are hoping for better things with the definition of autonomous driving. The research group Prognos came to the conclusion in a study that there is a good chance that autonomous vehicles won’t take off until much later than 2040.
The percentage of cars that permit the driver to turn their entire car away from the road will have increased to about 70% by 2050. The study predicts that fully autonomous vehicles won’t be widely available until 2040. The number of road accident victims may decrease significantly as automated vehicles become more common, although this is yet to be determined by calculations.
Additional advancements in navigation
The advancement of navigation is another factor that is related to autonomous driving. Navigation services that assist us in finding our way around the world include Google, TomTom, and Here. Computers are digitizing and adding data to navigation maps as they become more and more familiar with the world. Not only that, but in the future, navigation services will be able to anticipate traffic jams based on data, long before drivers can predict the impending catastrophe. TomTom aims to be quicker and more intelligent than its competitors, and this is precisely where it wants to start by gathering and connecting pertinent data.
Digital maps are still essential for semi-autonomous and future autonomous driving; they do more than just show the road network. This is due to the fact that only extremely accurate map data combined with current information on traffic, weather, and other important factors allow for vision-impaired driving. This holds true for the present as well. Intersections and obstacles must now be precisely mapped to the nearest centimeter if the car is to take the wheel.
Future delivery services, cab drivers, and drone operators will also require extremely detailed information about building entrances, floors, and surrounding infrastructure. Real-time data will be linked with static data to accomplish this. This data should then, for instance, indicate which turning lane is congested, where major events are likely to cause traffic chaos, when traffic lights should be changed, where the road is slick, and so forth. If you are now wondering where this information originates, examine yourself closely. Because, whether they realize it or not, users of navigation services give the providers their data, which is used to create future road maps.