Autonomous Vehicles

With the state of California recently approving driverless cars, jumping in your car to go somewhere and not having to do anything is a step closer, assuming the technology works and is infallible, it ought to be safer to.

Some of us more senior members of the community will remember the introduction of driverless trains, the DLR for example, at the time (1987) it was unthinkable that no one was driving, now it’s just accepted. No sickness, pension or compassionate leave to worry about, just the odd reboot 🙂

Google recently announced within 5 years they will have autonomous vehicles available. A great added benefit being access to transport for blind or disabled people who currently cannot drive, these guys could own and operate a car, got to be a good thing. Also mentioned in many articles is the extra space available as parking could be much more dense, or even stacked automatically.

These systems employ a mixture of sensors to detect and confirm speed, location, proximity to other vehicles etc by using Radar, GPS, Wheel encoders and Lasers coupled with of course detailed maps, accurate to within a couple of meters. Using all this data they can successfully and safely navigate a route and deal with the usual obstacles and scenarios that crop up on the roads.

The system has been developed to yield to pedestrians for example but to be more aggressive at intersections and junctions, so as to not be out smarted by those around it, edging forward is an example of being more aggressive, unlike the human equivalent of sticking ones fingers up and yelling obscenities out of the window.

The subject of shared vehicles is then a real possibility, after all you do not actually need to own one, just virtually flag one down in the app and jump in, the most efficient one stopping for you and inconveniencing the other passengers the least based on the optimum route.

Next time your in California look out for license plates with the infinity symbol and a red background, this denotes driverless.

For those Tomorrow’s World fans this is one step closer to flying cars.

View the keynote and more info

Source:spectrum.ieee.org, Google, YouTube

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