How much longer will we have to wait to have autonomous cars? It depends on who you ask; with this technology, most of the industry thinks it is very soon, and even that the average customer may not even be able to buy these types of cars. It will be used in public transport and carsharing, instead.
Tesla is the exception. Elon Musk is ready to give as quickly as possible what he terms “autonomous driving” to the general user, but the concept is quite out of what the industry has defined.
Tesla cars can already enjoy the Autopilot function which does not drive the car automatically despite what its name says. That will change with the update to come, which will finally allow us to let the car take us anywhere we want.
Tesla will soon have competition
Big car brands are betting big on creating cars that drive themselves. Nissan, for example, confirms that in 5 years it will sell self-driving cars, and the world’s largest search engine, Google, is preparing everything to be able to launch it also in 2020. Mercedes and BMW also join this
The most difficult task of developing driverless cars is to be able to combine GPS technology, optical cameras, lasers, and the ability to read road traffic signals. All this, to achieve a driving experience similar to what we have today. Autonomous cars are only a small start to everything to come in the future of the automotive industry.
Volvo was the first to test prototypes of driverless cars. This has enabled the Swedish company to perfect this technology and aims to have about 100 cars ready soon.
Mercedes-Benz wants to start its autonomous car in 2020. It will bet on an S Series sedan with the aim of traveling more than 100 kilo meters without a driver.
BMW presents the Remote Valet Parking Assistant, a system that allows you to park your car in a car park using a smartwatch.
Nissan estimates that its autonomous cars will see the light in five years. The Japanese manufacturer has confirmed that its vehicles will have adaptive cruising, electronic steering and throttle controls, and best of all, good value for money.
Renault presents Renault Next Two. A type of vehicle made up of radars and sensors that will free you from driving in traffic jams up to 30 kilo meters per hour, in addition to parking. In 2020, prototypes could be for sale.
Honda aims to launch the first automatic cruise control device in the world. With it, you will be able to automatically predict and react to the incorporation of other vehicles that are placed in front of your car without keeping the safety distance.
Is it safe enough?
Many remain skeptical to trust the artificial intelligence of these cars and how they can act in the face of unexpected events or if they can really avoid accidents. Musk still defends this technology, and strongly believes that the set of elements that a self-contained car possesses are key to safer driving.
Meanwhile, the rest of the industry has established clear rules, with several levels indicating how far the car can take control. The highest level, 5, is the only one that allows the car to be driven alone in all situations; instead, the Tesla system would fit neither level 4 (autonomy in controlled environments) nor level 5.
That’s because Tesla’s system will continue to improve even after launch, is based on neural networks that learn with each new event. Tesla’s algorithms use the cameras already built into all Tesla to analyze images and detect the road, obstacles, pedestrians, and other cars.
Tesla has revamped its Autopilot website to demonstrate this, including a new video showing how the car is able to “see” using the cameras. In the video, not only the objects detected by the algorithms are shown, but also information about the decisions made at all times.
Instead, most of the industry is confident that only radar systems, such as LIDAR, can provide enough information for the car to make a safe decision.
Currently, there are no traffic and circulation regulations that cover autonomous cars. Until the current road regulations for the circulation of this type of vehicle are reviewed, they must comply with the existing one.