Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Self-Driving Vehicle

The self-driving car “Autonomos” successfully completed a 1,500-mile trip, starting at the United States border in Arizona and ending in Mexico City. The driver, Raul Rojas, is currently a math professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. Rojas and his team of engineers began creating this self-driving car in 2006 at Stanford and at Rice University.
How is the vehicle able to self-drive itself? The car must be able to predict the behavior of other drivers, pedestrians, and traffic patterns. The computer must act and sense just like a human being driving a car, using all senses and attentional capacities at once. The computer in the car has multiple terabytes of data feeding constant information into the operating system that describes the highway.
The high tech scanners and GPS systems provide the means for the car to operate on its own. Autonomos has seven laser scanners imbedded in the vehicle. These scanners allow for the car to “sense” the surroundings of the vehicle. Also equipped with the lasers, there are nine different video cameras. These different cameras give the car 3-D sensory data. The car is fed information from all different angles of the car. The vehicle also has seven radars and a highly precise GPS system.
The test-drive of Autonomos had to be strategically planned because of the dangers associated with no human driving it. There was one person in the passenger and one in the driver’s seat. While in the driver’s seat, one monitored the car itself. He made sure that other cars were not close to the moving vehicle and other general operating functions. The other in the passenger seat monitored the computer. He made sure the flow of data was not interrupted by outside sources, such as other GPS systems.
Is this as safe as it sounds for people to actually use the car? If a computer malfunctions and senses something that is not there, this may put other drivers and the one driving the vehicle in serious danger. The driver of the vehicle is putting his life and other lives in the hands of a computer. How reliable will these computers be over time? The tests must be extremely rigorous to ensure safety. Is a truly functional self-driving vehicle more practical then a person just driving the car? If so, driver’s education will have to incorporate this style of driving in their teachings and there are to be stricter regulations dealing with drivers. On an upside, drunk driving will be eliminated, which kills thousands of innocent people every year.
Financially speaking, is this going to be to expensive to purchase for the average consumer? This car could financially help other areas of society. According to Maad, in 2014, drunk driving totaled the United States $199 billion. This is just one way the self-driving car can help our society for the better. Elon Musk recently said that in 30 years, people will not be driving cars manually at all. This Is a bold statement, but a valid one.


1 comment:

  1. There is no denying that autonomous cars can be extremely useful, convenient and even limit things such as drunk driving. Companies such as Uber can either greatly benefit from autonomous cars or be made obsolete by them. If Uber is able to implement autonomous cars into its company, then it would reduce the cost of labor for the company and save them money. However, if Uber is not able to keep up with this, then they will be made obsolete. While enhancing the technology market, it would reduce the transportation market. Also, there has been no testing done so far, that I am aware of, that tests the compatibility of two autonomous cars in the vicinity of one another. Would the technology of one car cause a malfunction or interference of the tech in the other? Would the cost of these cars be affordable to the general public or would it take a long time to reduce the cost? Finally, I believe that those who enjoy driving, myself included, would resist the transition into the age of autonomous cars. At what point would human operated vehicles become obsolete? Hopefully this is not in our time, because I, personally, am not ready to give up driving cars to be chauffeured around by an automaton.


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