Autonomous cars: Drives of the future
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Autonomous cars: Drives of the future

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Driver error is one of the biggest causes for road accidents across the world. In a matter of seconds a comfortable journey can turn into a nightmare if the driver is not concentrating on road. But what if the vehicle itself is monitoring the surroundings and cautiously moving ahead?

Autonomous cars are gradually becoming a crucial part of future of mobility as automakers are busy developing and testing complex functions that allow the vehicle to move by itself. It is true that the Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) enable safety functions that include automatic braking, pre-collision warning, but with self-driving vehicles, mobility will shift to a different level altogether as the need for a driver will be completely eliminated.

Autonomous cars deploy plethora of systems such as cameras, radars, lidars, radio to build competencies and move safely across diversified geographies. They work with sensors, complex algorithms, actuators, powerful processors and machine learning systems to execute software commands and move ahead. This enables autonomous cars to develop map surroundings sourced from data that is generated by various sensors placed across the vehicle. The processed data then sends various instructions to the various car actuators that control the vehicle speed, braking as well as steering.

There are five levels of vehicle autonomy that can be classified under Level 0 to Level 5. In Level 0, the driver has full control over the vehicle; however, the automated system prompts the driver of possible hazards. Level 1 introduces ADAS into the vehicle and both the system and the driver control the vehicle. The system becomes more advanced in Level 2 where it has the capacity to take the vehicle in control; however, a driver should remain alert to avoid any potential hazards. In Level 3, the passengers need not to pay attention and the system is in full control of the vehicle. But the passengers must be able to intervene in case required. Level 4 introduces geo-fencing wherein the automated system controls the vehicle movement in limited areas. It is the level 5 where no human intervention is required at all.

Autonomous vehicles are smart enough to decide the route as they constantly communicate with the other vehicles on road as well as the infrastructure. This enables them to avoid traffic congestion as well as maintain a steady flow of traffic in the city, thereby leading to efficient asset utlitisation. However, there are various challenges that the manufacturers involved in autonomous vehicle development also encounter. These challenges range from technological to environmental as well as legislative across several pockets of the world. Weather conditions, traffic conditions and associated laws, Lidar and Radar functionality that manage range and resolution balance are among the top concerns that manufactures need to address on high priority. Regardless of being smart, what if the vehicle conducts an accident, then who will be held responsible a fully autonomous vehicle won't have a steering wheel to control the vehicle during emergencies. Regardless, the autonomous vehicles will be a part of our future and a crucial one.