Autonomous Driving

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What is autonomous driving?

A vehicle which drives with a small amount or no human input and is capable of using the environment around it to drive safely.

Autonomous vehicles have been developing since the 1920’s, but in the 1950’s a trail on the safety of the vehicles took place and since then the work to develop autonomous driving into where we are now with autonomous driving becoming a very realistic thing near into the future. 

There are still many things to work on before it becomes a regular thing to see an autonomous driving vehicle on the road. In 2016 in Arizona the very first recorded death by a fully autonomous vehicle when AI-powered SUV drove into a woman jaywalking at night. An investigation went ahead to find the major contributing factor, they believed it to be the code couldn’t recognise the woman as a pedestrian because she was not using an obvious crossing. 

With the growth of autonomous driving technology, people will also increase the amount they talk about the regulations. Change in laws and social attitudes are all going to be considered before autonomous driving becomes a practical reality for most people as more and more people start to consider the swap to autonomous driving and autonomous vehicles.

There is also semi autonomous driving, this is where there are different functions to help the driver. A car that can steer, accelerate, decelerate, stop and change lanes without human intervention is a semi autonomous vehicle.

There are levels from 0 to 5 on autonomous driving:

Level 0: Vehicles that have no autonomous or self-driving controls at all, with all aspects of driving needing to be taken care of by the driver, including reacting to hazards.

Level 1: Vehicles that can share the control of the vehicle between driver and car. Adaptive cruise control, which controls speed and distance compared to the vehicle in front is more common and a good example, as the driver still has to steer the car. Another feature is park assist as the driver has to control the speed of the vehicle while the car takes care of the steering.

Level 2: Cars have internal systems that take care of all aspects of driving: steering, acceleration and braking. However, the driver must be able to take over if any part of the system fails. Level 2 is also referred to as “hands-off”, but the driver is required to keep their hands on the wheel at all times.

Level 3: vehicles are ones that can be truly considered autonomous. Some times are called “eyes off” vehicles, people who use level 3 let the car can take care of everything while driving along the road. Drivers are allowed to safely use their phone or watch movies, although they are still required to be on-hand to intervene if necessary, so falling asleep isn’t an option.

Level 4: Cars are referred to as “mind-off”, because they’re so capable that the driver isn’t required to intervene at all, so you can go to sleep if you want. However, there are some restrictions, as the full self-driving mode can only be activated in certain, geofenced areas or in traffic jams. If the car isn’t in a specified area or in a traffic jam, then it must be able to get itself to safety if the driver isn’t able to take control in an emergency.

Level 5: Cars are ones that require no human interaction whatsoever, they are fully autonomous vehicles. Examples of level 5 vehicles are robotic taxis.

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