Tech Radar: Self-Driving Cars

Just like home automation, cars are getting smarter as well.  From Google to Tesla, Uber to Nissan, self-driving cars are becoming autonomous with the future as much as anything else. In fact, CES 2017 was full of companies showcasing their autonomous driving plans, with BMW announcing their plan for a fleet of fully autonomous vehicles to hit roads for testing before the end of the year.

But despite the excitement, the advent of these vehicles is marked by legal trouble, public distaste and distrust, and even location based prohibitions. This is what you need to know about self-driving cars and the future of transportation.

Tesla

Tesla is perhaps the self-driving technology with the most public knowledge due to some less than desirable past driving results. Tesla’s automation combined with the electric cars they create makes them a huge player in both the environmental and driverless car future. Run by an incredibly powerful computer, and enabling cameras, radars, sensors, and ultrasonics to provide the driverless experience, this car is equipped with a huge amount of groundbreaking technology. However their proclivity to bend traffic rules (mostly speed limits) has been the cause of headlines recently, and the fatal accident last June involving a self-driving Tesla and a semi truck was news for many weeks as the safety of driverless cars and the technology behind them was scrutinized.

Google’s WAYMO

Google has been working on automated driving for years, and now in its current inception, the internet giant’s movement is called Waymo. Google’s software and built-in-house hardware allow a completely driverless experience, with sensors that detect any possible obstacles and predict behavior, allowing the vehicle to execute the best navigation and defensive driving possible.  Road tests have put the Waymo enabled vehicles to the test going through complex situations and real driving conditions, even giving the cars the ability to react to any unexpected situations. Many experts have speculated that if Tesla’s cars utilized the same technology as Google’s cars, June’s accident between the semi and the autonomous car would not have happened.

Nissan

Japanese car manufacturer Nissan has announced that its autonomous vehicles should be out testing the roads in England come February. The cars are manufactured in Sunderland, so it is easy to see why the location is set as it is. Government clearance is still awaiting approval, but once the plan is approved, testing will begin. Equipped with radar, laser and camera systems the Nissan Intelligent Mobility Suite is aboard the company’s electric car (Nissan Leaf), putting this manufacturer in direct competition with Tesla.

The driverless car is still relatively new, but you can expect to see more of them as the year progresses and more companies jump on board. Rules and regulations will change, as will technology and the sheer amount of options open to those that are interested in automated driving technology. There’s no doubt that these cars could change the face of transportation for just about everybody, whether these advancements are good or bad remains to be seen.

 

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