Driverless vehicles: Sci-fi turned reality

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A member of the media test drives a Tesla Motors Inc. Model S car equipped with Autopilot in Palo Alto, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. Tesla Motors Inc. will begin rolling out the first version of its highly anticipated "autopilot" features to owners of its all-electric Model S sedan Thursday. Autopilot is a step toward the vision of autonomous or self-driving cars, and includes features like automatic lane changing and the ability of the Model S to parallel park for you. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Driverless vehicles or autonomous cars were something completion seen on various sci-fi shows but with the advancement in Artificial intelligence, prospects of this dream becoming a reality are quite bright. Automobile giant, from across the globe, has jumped into this race of manufacturing the world’s first autonomous car. Companies Lexus, BMW and Mercedes are working intensely towards these cars whereas pioneers of the electric driven vehicle; Tesla has entered the testing phase. Their cars are seen being operated on various streets of the United Kingdom on autopilot mode. Although companies are at advanced stages of this technology, still a fully functioning vehicle might require more time. Companies like BWM have adopted a different approach and have launched self-parking mode in their latest 7 series, instead of an entire system based on autonomy they have restricted it to just parking. This will in return create a sense of awareness regarding the effectiveness of the system and a sense of anticipation for further autonomy.

Most of the companies and others concerned with the technology believed to have gained substantial success this year i.e.2019. But as we approach the end of this year, a feeling of disappointment seems to have taken over. A new forecast in this respect shows that maybe 2 to 3 more years are still required to reach a point where something conclusive could be said. After continue failures, some now believe that a complete revamping is required in this regard. The greatest setback this technology has had is due to its improper usage. Daily we see videos on the social media of passengers sleeping while their car is in autopilot mode. Despite continuous warnings that an autopilot mode only to be used in the presence of a vigilant driver rather than a sleeping one. Consequent, accidents and deaths are a result of this automation has put this technology under severe suspicion and scrutiny.

Another major issue these cars are facing is due to the sensors being used. Most commonly used sensors include redundant camera, radar and lidar sensors. These sensors together contribute to the vehicles ability to see. Sensors are used and designed in such a way that they could support one another and overcome each other’s shortcomings. Camera have good capability to see hence good detection, but they struggle in low light. Lidar comes in play under such circumstances since it has the ability to detect under any lighting but weather conditions like snow can really hamper its detecting abilities. And all these redundancies can further increase glitches. All of this has put, the silver bullet, Artificial intelligence under quite a lot strain since making these cars understand what they are actually seeing is the real challenge.

Uneven terrain, bad weather and sudden movements have all made the dream of autonomous cars far-fetched. But researches are hopeful and now have invested their hopes in better sensors. They believe that Thermographic sensors can potentially end this puzzle. Wide detection capability of a thermal sensor is the primary reason for this change of heart.

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