Wednesday Wonder: Self-driving Cars

Self-driving Cars

Self-driving vehicles, also known as autonomous or “driverless”, are cars in which human drivers are not required to take control to safely operate the vehicle. They combine sensors and software to control, navigate, and drive the vehicle. Currently, there are no legally operating, fully-autonomous vehicles in the United States. There are, however, partially-autonomous vehicles. These are cars with varying amounts of self-automation, from conventional cars with brake and lane assistance to highly-independent, self-driving prototypes.

Several self-driving technologies have been developed by companies such as, Google, Uber, Tesla, Nissan, and many others. While details vary, most self-driving systems create and maintain an internal map of their surroundings, based on a wide array of sensors, like radar. Software then processes that information, plots a path, and sends instructions to the vehicle’s “actuators,” which control acceleration, braking, and steering. Hard-coded rules, obstacle avoidance algorithms, and predictive modeling, help the cars software follow traffic rules and navigate obstacles. Partially-autonomous vehicles may require a human driver to intervene if the system encounters uncertainty.

While we may be waiting a little longer for a fully autonomous vehicle, there are some partially-autonomous cars currently on the market and available for purchase.

What are your thoughts on these vehicles? Will they make the roads safer? Would you “drive” one?



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