Automated Driving: Conception, Development and Impact

by / Friday, 27 November 2015 / Published in Muffler

If only automobiles drove themselves, then people who know cannot or don’t want to drive can finally get a car, while those who drive can leave it on auto-pilot and just relax all the way to their destination whenever they don’t feel like steering the wheel, moving the shift stick, or stepping on pedals. A shame that such a thought is still a mere science fiction concept, right?

Wrong! We’ve come so far since creating the first chrome mufflers. We now have autonomous cars. Honest. If this news got your motor running, then read on and get yourself up to speed with this relatively recent advancement in automobile technology.

 

Early Headstart

Although it seems like autonomous cars are very recent inventions, their development started as early as the 1920s, trials that led to promising results only happened sixty years later because of Carnegie Mellon University’s Navlab and the Eureka Prometheus Project, a joint effort of Mercedes Benz and Bundeswehr Univesity in Munich. Ever since then, many prototypes have been invented.

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From Search Engines to Engines

Twenty-five years later, Google became one of the most famous names to further develop the advancement. Thus, the Google Self-Driving Car was born. Usually shorthanded as SDC, this self-driving vehicle is a project of Google X, one of the many companies under the Google Alphabet, the official name of the Google group of companies.

Formerly led by Sebastian Thurn, former director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and co-inventor of Google Street View, he and his team created the robotic vehicle that won the 2005 DARPA Grand and Urban Challenges, a prize competition dedicated to the creation of American autonomous vehicles and is funded by the eponymous Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, which is arguably the biggest research branch of the US Military. Going by these credentials, it’s safe to assume that the Google Self-Driving Car is an effective autonomous vehicle that will soon be released in the very near future. In fact, legislation that permits the presence of driverless cars on the road has been passed on four states – that’s how near we are to a driverless future.

 

Why Is No One on the Front Seat?

Now that driverless cars are becoming a practical and marketable reality, what could be the implications of this revolutionary automobile technology? A lot!

The potential advantages of driverless cars are numerous. For starters, since driverless don’t revent human errors like tailgating, rubbernecking, and other related errors that stem out of distracted and/or aggressive driving. In addition, because of reduced need for safety gaps, roadway can be increased and traffic congestion can be lessened.

This seemingly extremely convenient technology, however, doesn’t come with any potential flaws. After all, their computers can still malfunction and commit the very same errors that they aim to prevent. In addition, one of the dangers driverless cars face is that nonverbal pedestrian and police cues may not be understood by the system. Either way, despite the disadvantages, a lot of tech experts believe that it’s going to be a good thing.

 

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Cars that drive themselves are becoming a reality; truly, it’s a good time to be alive. So, how will this affect the automotive industry in the future, both near and not-so-near? Only time and us gearheads will tell.

 

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