A self-driving car, also known as an autonomous car, is a vehicle that operates with minimal or no human involvement. It’s a car that does not need a human controlling it, and instead relies on artificial intelligence, radars, sensors, light detection, and cameras. The automotive industry has seen great progress in the past few decades and it’s safe to say that self-driving cars are soon going to be the norm. The top contenders in the self-driving car segment include Waymo, Audi, Tesla, Nissan, General Motors, BMW, Volvo, and Volkswagen.
What is a self-driving car really capable of?
Self-driving cars are equipped to follow instructions and create virtual maps for predetermined destinations. The technology inside them can read road signs and traffic lights; calculate the distance from other vehicles in their vicinity; identify pedestrians, road edges, lanes and curbs; and accommodate other aspects of driving norms. They’re also well-equipped to predict the next move of a pedestrian or vehicle and navigate obstacles. The artificial intelligence (AI) mechanisms of an autonomous car improve its driving proficiency by expanding its algorithm and data with every ride.
Benefits of a self-driving car
- Reduced risk of crashes
Many serious accidents are a result of the driver’s oversight. The goal of (creating an) autonomous car is to eliminate the risk of human error. That is not to say that autonomous cars don’t get involved in crashes. This will need to be straightened out through approvals from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- Less traffic congestion
If autonomous cars outnumbered traditional cars on the road, then they would communicate with each other and prevent long queues when a single car suddenly stops for a turn. An autonomous car can signal the cars following it beforehand to change lanes, and cars from the adjacent lane can cooperate better to avoid congestion and encourage free-flowing traffic.
- With extra time in hand comes better productivity
Imagine a life wherein the stress of driving is eliminated from your everyday routine. Not only will it enable a better start to your day but will also allow you to channelize your energy in work rather than letting it be used up even before you reach office.
- A self-driving car offers more freedom
Differently abled and senior citizens can enjoy the freedom of mobility without being dependent on another human. This sense of independence may further impart confidence and social involvement.
- Lower emissions
Less traffic congestion means less pollution, and it’s one way in which the environment gains from technology. The GPS systems and virtual maps also eliminate long routes and idle driving that are usually accompanied by a weak sense of direction when driving to a new destination.
- Reduced parking stress
The use of autonomous cars may increase the potential of carpooling, which can lower the need to park, and even save the time that’s usually taken up in looking for a parking spot. This especially makes a significant difference to people in congested cities.