We hear a lot about autonomous driving lately, and while the idea of driverless cars seems like the stuff of science fiction, it’s already here in many forms today. The technologies that comprise the autonomous vehicle of the near future are either operating or being tested on our roads right now.
Current vehicle options of today, such as self-parking cars; lane change warning, where the vehicle senses the lines on the road and warns you if your course will cross the lane markings; as well as various collision avoidance systems, where the vehicle brakes when an obstacle is detected in its path; and various pedestrian avoidance systems available today make up just a portion of the existing preliminary technologies, which may be a part of future self-driving vehicle systems.
The Move to Autonomous Driving is already well underway
Tesla is already delivering the Autopilot system that drives a vehicle with human behind-the-wheel intervention when needed or desired. Companies such as Apple, Google’s Waymo, and Uber, among many others, are heavily involved in the development of driverless systems for vehicles, using arrays of cameras, lidar, and other sensors, coupled with artificial intelligence, machine learning, and infrastructure connectivity, to allow a vehicle to sense its environment and to set its own course and speed.
We’ve previously reported on this blog regarding Las Vegas’s Regional Transportation Commission’s (RTC) system of communicating between the traffic signal control system and Audi vehicles to alert the driver of impending red lights as the vehicle approaches an intersection. This type of Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) system, although highly upgraded, will likely become a part of future autonomous driving systems. There will certainly be additional technology developed, some of which will be discarded and some of which will become industry standard, that will make up the future networks driving our vehicles.
Steps to Autonomous Vehicles
The standards setting Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), (best known for assigning grades such as 5W30 to motor oil, among many other things), has already outlined a progression of steps from completely manually driven vehicles with some automated assists, to fully autonomous as Level 1 through Level 5.
Level 1 – Features included under this level include adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, automated parking, and active lane control. These may even be considered mainstream vehicle options today, with such options available on most new vehicles sold today.
Level 2 – Automated steering and speed control for short periods. Luxury brands such as Tesla, Volvo, BMW and Mercedes Benz are already offering these features.
Level 3 – These options are still in testing today, but this will be the advent of the self-driving car, requiring some driver intervention.
Level 4 – Fully Autonomous, no human interaction required, but allowing the option for human driving.
Level 5 – Fully Autonomous, with no human vehicle control option.
This progression takes into account and will require improvements to road infrastructure, not of cement and asphalt, but of technology, to connect vehicles with local traffic networks to deliver real-time information regarding other vehicles and traffic flows to route us most efficiently to our destinations without our conscious participation.
Brave New Driving World
While it’s difficult to imagine what this new driving world will look like, technologies are already either operating in the real world today or are under development and testing, which will revolutionize personal transportation as we know it over the next 20-30 years. For those of us who have been around for a while, it’s difficult to even remember what it was like not to carry a cell phone on our person. The days when the only way to communicate with others, was to call from our own land line to someone else’s home or work phone, seem a distant and fading memory. So, looking back 20 years from now, perhaps it will be difficult to remember when we had to drive our cars to work, rather than being taken to work by our cars. What will the commute look like?
Will street signs become a weird form of early 21stcentury pop art, bringing a nostalgic memory of the time way back, when they were needed? Will parking lots vanish, as vehicles will drop us at work and then go run other errands such as picking up groceries, or dropping the kids at school or soccer practice, only to pick us up at the appointed time to return home? Will the windows in our cars become the heads-up display for our cell phone or computers as we do research the Internet? Will traffic signals disappear, since our vehicles will whisk us swiftly and safely through intersections, avoiding other vehicles doing the same thing at speeds that would probably induce terror in today’s world?
Perhaps the images of traffic portrayed in movies such as I, Robot, and Minority Reportwill become some faint intimation of the real world of 30 years from now. Time will tell.
In today’s world, tickets are still a reality…Ticket Busters is the solution
While we wait for the technology to bring these visions to reality, today’s reality is that we are still required to control our vehicles, within the rules of the road, including speed limits. If you get a ticket in Las Vegas, call us, we can help. We represent you with the court and negotiate a settlement, which usually includes a reduction in the charges, reductions or elimination of points, and save you time, and increases to your insurance rates. Call us today at (702) 666-6666.