The driverless car or self-driving car is a concept that actually
goes back nearly a century. Although how we view driverless cars
today is somewhat different, the basic theories and reasoning
for such vehicles is still very similar. Even many of our vehicles
today come with automated features such as cruise control, rain-sensitive
windshield wipers and automated lights when it becomes dark.
Future Driverless Car
Today, driverless vehicles are becoming a larger part of our
landscape, leaving the realm of science fiction and becoming a
day-to-day reality. This is in large part due to the advancement
of computers and communication systems which may result in the
foreseeable future people being carried along by autonomous vehicles.
What is a Driverless Car?
Basically, a driverless car is a vehicle that is capable of navigating
the roadways without the assistance of a human driver. The autonomous
car can sense the environment around it, communicate with other
vehicles to avoid accidents and navigate the roadways to a pre-programmed
While automated vehicles such as ones seen in science fiction
movies such as "Total Recall" are not quite ready for
our streets, there are currently open-air shuttles that operate
in pedestrian zones in certain parts of the US which transport
passengers to and from pre-programmed locations at relatively
GM Autonomous Car
How do Driverless Vehicles Work?
Today, driverless cars combine a central computer system with
instruments such as GPS, lidar, radar, communication systems and
cameras to successfully navigate to a pre-programmed area. More
advanced versions of these vehicles will continuously update their
maps and surrounding environmental information which in turn helps
the vehicle adapt to new situations such as reduced vision, rain,
slick roads and so forth.
Autonomous vehicles actually date back to the 1920s when radio-controls
were put in place to drive the vehicle from one destination to
another. However, the first true driverless car was created in
the 1980s by Mercedez-Benz and Bundeswehr University in Munich.
From such beginnings, other car companies jumped into the mix
from General Motors to Nissan and more.
By 2010, four electric autonomous vehicles actually drove from
Italy to China, a distance of over 8000 miles. This breakthrough
research project has led to many others which have advanced the
cause of driverless vehicles. As of today, four US states as well
as many cities in Europe have passed laws which permit driverless
cars on their roadways.
Google Driverless Car
In 2012, Google posted several examples of its driverless cars
using the search engine's Chauffeur software. Google retrofitted
several Prius, Lexus and an Audi with its driverless car technology.
The Navia Shuttle, a product of Induct Technology, became the
first self-driving vehicle to be put up for commercial sale. Carrying
up to 8 people, this vehicle resembles a golf cart and is designed
to take passengers from one location to another, such as from
the airport to parking complexes, inside university or hospital
complexes and so forth.
The Future of Automated Vehicles
Given the advancement in technology, it is very possible that
automated vehicles will become the norm on the roadways in the
near future. A HIS Automotive report states that by 2035 most
vehicles will be self-driving, including personal cars and trucks.
What will arguably start with mass transit and cargo vessels
will eventually reach personal vehicles in terms of automated
driving. With fewer accidents and better fuel efficiency, driverless
cars are becoming part of our present.
Written by Kevin Lepton