Self-Driving cars are no longer a “thing” of the future or a type of technology that can only be seen in cartoons or science fiction movies. Engineers and innovators have worked hard to make self-driving cars a reality. Like a human-driven car, there is a host of technology and information involved in the function of a self-driving car.
Get Down to the Basics
First, let’s get down to the basics and get an understanding about how these cars operate. Self-driving cars or autonomous cars are able to function with the help of four different types of technology in order to allow the car to become your eyes. These technologies include passive visual, LIDAR, ultrasonic, and radar.
The first of these technologies is known as passive visual. Passive visual is a type of innovation that utilizes cameras joined with modern picture acknowledgment calculations to comprehend what the cameras are seeing. These frameworks can distinguish color, contrast, and resolution, superior to any sensor available. This technology requires optimum light conditions to work properly. In the event that the light conditions are decreased or become dim, the performance of the passive visual system will also decrease.
Next, LIDAR technology is required in order for a self-driving car to function. LIDAR is an acronym that stands for Light Detection and Ranging. It utilizes laser light to recognize objects and calculate distances. With the help of the LIDAR technology speed and distance can be identified up to 200 feet away. The LIDAR is able to work efficiently regardless of light conditions. This technology uses light wavelengths in order to function properly.
Unfortunately, it does not work well under a number of conditions such as dusty environments, fog, or rain. This is because the LIDAR technology is not able to differentiate between colors and contrast. A first glance, you can state that a LIDAR is similar to radar but this technology provides a picture quality that is of a higher resolution. This is thanks to the lasers that are included with the technology. The lasers are normally set in a turning wheel over the automobile, so they turn around quick, taking a gander at the area around them.
Thirdly, ultrasonic systems are necessary in order for a self-driving car to function. This technology radiates ultrasonic sound waves and calculates distance by to what extent these waves take to come back to the source. This type of system may sound familiar if you are a nature fan. Bats use sound in order to navigate their paths when flying or moving around because they are blind. Ultrasonic sensors are useful for short proximity detection in all climate conditions. Though this technology is able to work in every type of weather condition it is limited when it comes to its reach or range.
The fourth type of technology that is used in the production of a self-driving car is radar. Some of you are familiar with radar. If you are a pilot or have served in the military, then you are possibly familiar with radar technology utilizes radio waves to recognize items and calculate speed and points. It has great range, however low determination. Radar is superior to LIDAR in a number of weather conditions and can recognize items at short proximity more efficiently.
Look into the Robotics
Now that we have learned the four technologies associated with the eye of a self-driving car, let’s take a look into the robotics. If the above technologies are the eyes of the car, then the robotics are the arms and legs. The name of the robotics device in the self-driving car is the actuator. The actuator is able to translate an electrical signal into a physical action. The actuator is able to operate with the help of a motor. The motor inside of this device rotates based on the signal that it receives. Due to the complexity of a self-driving car, these devices come with many actuators. These actuators are installed in the steering wheel, brakes, gears, engines, and more.
The final type of technology to understand regarding self-driving cars is the navigation system. The navigation system allows for questions to get answered “Where are you located now” and “What courses are available to provide you with a path to get you to where you want to be”? Navigation is made possible with the help of instruments and techniques such as dead reckoning, LORAN radio location, sextant, and compass are a few technologies that are used to direct the path of the self-driving car. The essential subsystem utilized for route and direction depends on a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver, which calculates your present location based on the analysis of signals given from at least 60 orbiting satellites. GPS framework can give area precision on the request of one meter (the genuine number relies upon numerous unobtrusive issues).
The last bit of information to learn about self-driving cars is that they are separated into levels.
Level 0: This level means that the human controls all aspects of the car.
Level 1: In this level a human driver controls majority of the functions necessary for driving a car except one. An example of a level 1 vehicle would be a car that has an automatic braking system.
Level 2: This particular level offers control over one driver assistance system, such as steering and acceleration. An example of this would-be cruise control.
Level 3: human drivers are still required for this level just in case certain driving conditions appear. The car is able to drive without a human intervening.
Level 4: Cars that are at this level are categorized as full-autonomous. These particular cars have been programmed to execute all safety-critical driving tasks and also monitor the environment and road conditions. Though these particular cars are considered to be fully-autonomous they are not meant to drive in every possible situation.
Level 5: These cars are also fully autonomous but unlike the cars in level 5 they are expected to perform well in all driving scenarios.