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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

#scienceInAction ...self driving cars are here (+VIDEO)

An autonomous car (also known as a driverless car, self-driving car or robotic car) is a vehicle that is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input. 

Self driving cars use a variety of techniques to detect their surroundings, such as radar, laser light, GPS, and computer vision. Advanced control systems interpret sensory information to identify appropriate navigation paths, as well as obstacles and relevant sign post. Autonomous cars have control systems that are capable of analysing sensory data to distinguish between different cars on the road, which is very useful in planning a path to the desired destination.
The world of self-driving autonomous cars is only around the corner, and companies across the globe, from car makers such as Tesla, Audi and Nissan, to tech firms like Google are spending millions to get the technology on the road. 
The UK is one country that is leading the way for autonomous cars. The Driven group is a consortium of British tech companies that is pioneering research into autonomous cars. At the moment, driverless car testing is currently concentrated in small urban areas and city centres, but it has unveiled plans to test a fleet of autonomous vehicles on motorways by 2019. The cars will aim to drive entirely on their own, although a human driver will be present to take over control if needed.

Potential Advantages
- Among the anticipated benefits of automated cars is the potential reduction in traffic collisions (and resulting deaths and injuries and costs), caused by human-driver errors, such as delayed reaction time.

If a human driver isn't required, automated cars could also reduce labor costs; relieve travellers from driving and navigation chores, thereby replacing behind-the-wheel commuting hours with more time for leisure or work; and also would lift constraints on occupant ability to drive, distracted and texting while driving, intoxicated, prone to seizures, or otherwise impaired.

- Higher speed limits; smoother rides;  and increased roadway capacity; and minimized traffic congestion, due to decreased need for safety gaps and higher speeds.

Potential Obstacles
- The Software that drives the vehicle may develop reliability problems at some point. Artificial Intelligence still isn't able to function properly in chaotic inner city environments.
- The car's computer could potentially be compromised, as could a communication system between cars.
Avoidance of large animals requires recognition and tracking, and Volvo found that software suited to caribou, deer, and elk was ineffective with kangaroos.
- Autonomous cars may require very high-quality specialised maps to operate properly. Where these maps may be out of date, they would need to be able to fall back to reasonable behaviors.
- Competition for the radio spectrum desired for the car's communication.
- Current road infrastructure may need changes for autonomous cars to function optimally.
- Cost (purchase, maintenance, repair and insurance) of autonomous vehicle as well as total cost of infrastructure spending to enable autonomous vehicles and the cost sharing model may as well grow out of reach.