Today’s advancements in technology are revolutionizing how we think about the future of transportation – specifically, the development of autonomous vehicles. Self-driving cars, buses, and other autonomous vehicles are set to revolutionize the way we travel and could bring huge economic and societal benefits across the world.
Furthermore, new technologies are providing smarter ways to connect people to goods and services, with less dependance on individual car-ownership. In this article, we will discuss the science of autonomous vehicles and how self-driving cars are changing transportation.
The History of Autonomous Vehicles
The concept of autonomous vehicles has been around since the 1950s. Their development has had many milestones, including the first autonomous route-map published in 1961, the building of the first autonomous vehicle in 1977 and the first landspeed record for autonomous vehicles in 1987. Over the last few decades, autonomous vehicle technology has been further developed and refined. The first self-driving car was built in 2011, and the same year the first autonomous vehicles were rolled out in a limited capacity to the public.
Today, growth in autonomous vehicles has been exponential. Over the past 5 years, there has been a significant increase in investment surrounding autonomous vehicles from both the public and private sectors. This has resulted in more companies launching their own self-driving car projects and more autonomous vehicles on the road today.
The Technology Behind Autonomous Vehicles
Autonomous vehicles are complex pieces of technology, where various technologies must be merged together to create a reliable and safe self-driving car system. The most innovative self-driving cars use a combination of various technologies, such as LiDar, computer vision, artificial intelligence (AI), Global Positioning System (GPS), and sensors.
LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is a technology used in autonomous vehicles to scan the surroundings with laser light. This enables the vehicle to build a photo-realistic 3D map of its surroundings, allowing it to understand where cars, pedestrians and other objects are located in relation to the car.
Computer vision is another essential part of autonomous vehicle technology. This technology enables the car to understand and interpret visual input from the cameras that are installed on the vehicle. This helps the car to see and identify objects and then take action in the appropriate circumstances.
The data gathered from the sensors is then processed with the help of AI. The AI system is able to process the data and make decisions based on the information it has. This technology enables the vehicle to learn from its experiences and to make improved decisions in the future.
Global Positioning System (GPS)
GPS technology is also used in autonomous vehicles to help the vehicle understand its exact location and to navigate to its destination.
Sensors in autonomous vehicles can detect and measure a range of environmental factors like temperature, wind speed, and atmospheric pressure.
How Self-Driving Cars Are Changing Transportation
The advancement of autonomous vehicle technology has fundamental implications for the way the world moves. Self-driving cars offer the potential to dramatically change the way we move and could bring massive economic and societal benefits. Here are some of the ways self-driving cars are changing transportation:
Lower Cost of Transportation
The cost of owning and operating motor vehicles is estimated to be around $8,000 to $10,000 a year, mainly due to fuel costs and depreciation in vehicle value. It is predicted that autonomous vehicles could reduce the cost of transportation significantly, as autonomous cars would be able to travel further, drive more efficiently, and require less frequent maintenance.
Reduction of Accidents & Congestion
Research has shown that 90% of road accidents are due to human error. Autonomous vehicles have the potential to drastically reduce the number of fatal accidents, due to their increased accuracy and speed in reacting to driving conditions. Further, autonomous vehicles can drive more efficiently allowing for fewer delays due to bottlenecks, resulting in reduced traffic congestion.
Improved Mobility for the Disabled
One of the key benefits of autonomous vehicles is the improved mobility for the disabled, who often have trouble accessing on-demand transportation services. Autonomous vehicles have the potential to provide a low-cost and convenient means of transport for people with limited mobility, by allowing them to be safely taken to their destination without the need for a driver.
New Mobility Services
The introduction of self-driving vehicles is expected to result in the emergence of new mobility services. Companies can use autonomous vehicles to provide on-demand transportation services, similar to Uber or Lyft. These services can be tailored to meet the specific needs of customers, making them more affordable and accessible than ever before.
The use of self-driving vehicles can bring significant environmental benefits. Autonomous vehicles will be able to travel more efficiently, saving fuel, and since they do not require a driver, they can reduce the amount of emissions. In addition, due to the improved traffic flow, self-driving cars can reduce noise pollution, as well as opening up new possibilities for carpooling.
It is clear that self-driving cars will have a profound impact on transportation in the coming years. Autonomous vehicles will introduce new levels of convenience, affordability, and safety to the way we move, allowing us to access transportation services more easily and reduce our carbon footprint. By merging the latest technologies such as LiDAR, computer vision, AI, GPS, and sensors, self-driving cars have the potential to revolutionize the way we move and could provide major economic and social benefits.