There has been drastic change in terms of the growth of automobiles from the past era. Today’s automobiles are equipped with modern technologies which makes the vehicle more refined, efficient, comfortable, safe and attractive. Some of the technologies include efficient engines, body styling and aerodynamics, safety features, light weight, improved tire industry, hybrid and electric vehicles and alternative fuels. Thus all these things point to the amount of research that has been put into the automobiles for several decades. Considering limited dependency on conventional fuels petrol and diesel, various future mobility solutions like hydrogen powered vehicles, electric vehicles , solar cars and compressed air powered vehicles are being researched in the global automotive industry.
One more interesting future mobility solution that has come into picture is the Driverless Car. The concept has come up in order to address the accidents on the roads and also the fatigue of the driver during long drivings. Yes, these are the vehicles which will not be controlled by the drivers and rather will be controlled by automatic mechanical and electronic systems throughout your journey. Just imagine a driver less car on the road which is capable of performing various functions like braking, accelerating, identifying the traffic signals, cornering and changing lanes. It would be really interesting to notice such cars on road!!!
Thus it would behave like a robotic car which will take you to any desired location of yours and you just need to relax and enjoy the ride.Considering the road conditions in which we drive,you might be thinking that how such vehicles will recognize when to brake, when to stop at traffic signals, when to change lanes, when to steer and how much to steer, how to avoid any obstacles on road and many other things. But we need to support the type of research automotive engineers are doing to develop such concepts.Google has come up with a prototype of a driver less car. Apart from Google, car manufacturers like Mercedes Benz, Volvo, BMW and Audi are also working on automation in the driving process.
Driver less vehicles have three basic things to accomplish: Braking, Acceleration and Steering.
The vehicle needs to brake during traffic signals, to keep a safe distance from the front car and in case of pedestrian crossing. In order to automate this process , sensors can be installed on the wheels or bumpers for detecting close cars. BMW is working on usage of ultrasonic sensors for detecting objects. A 3D imaging device is required to get all the images of the environment which is then fed into the algorithm of braking. LIDAR(a radar set up) is used by Google prototype vehicle for capturing the images and is mounted on the top of the vehicle. Finally the braking algorithm needs to be developed to take in all the data from sensors, LIDAR and provide output for braking.
It requires the vehicle to understand the traffic patterns, maps and speed limits. Braking technologies will be reused to develop the acceleration algorithm.
The vehicle needs to be equipped with inbuilt navigation system for guiding itself. Along with GPS(Global positioning system), the algorithms of braking and acceleration will also play important role in making algorithms for steering functionality.
Thus all these issues needs to be considered for developing driverless vehicles
GOOGLE Prototype Vehicle:
The vehicle looks like a compact city car. It has a stop-go button and no pedals, steering wheel. It can accommodate two passengers and the speed is limited to 40kmph for safe driving. The vehicle is propelled by electric motors. The front of the vehicle is made using a foam like material which will ensure safety for pedestrians. It uses a radar system mounted on the roof top for getting the images from the environment.
It also makes use of Google Road Maps for navigation of the vehicle from one point to another. Google has also announced that these prototypes have been tested for 7,00,000 miles on auto mode and are now focusing on busy street roads. They are also hoping to see these vehicles on road within a year.Also there are several cases where we need to be cautious with respect to this technology. One of which is the situation when the computer does not respond and requires human intervention for driving. The people seated in the car may not pay attention to it and this might lead to an accident. Thus rigorous testing is being done by Google for ensuring that they have covered all the possibilities in the driving scenarios.
Drawbacks of Driver-less Cars:
These vehicles have the true potential of bringing a change in the transportation system in terms of safety aspects, reduced pollution and traffic congestion. These vehicles have the ability to remove driving error and thereby reduce accidents.
Innovation at its best!