UBER AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE PROTOTYPE from Wikimedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license
I’m here again today with a very interesting article. I myself enjoyed researching and reading about this topic because it is related to Artificial Intelligence which is practically where the whole world is driving to.
What inspired me to write this article was my MCE 325 practical teacher, he was at first talking about the Internal Combustion Engine (I.C.E) then he got to the part when he classified the engine into the Two-Stroke Engine and the Four-Stroke Engine. Since I wrote something on that, you should have seen the way I was flowing in the practical class. He now came to the part when he talked about the artificial intelligence car, then I said this is my next article.
BLADE RUNNER 2049 from Wikimedia under CC BY-SA 3.0 License
If you saw the movie Blade Runner 2049 2017, around the time 1:36:15 – 1:37:30, Ryan Gosling “K” was commanding his vehicle with audio input to move left, move right, scan a body and so on, that’s just a fictional representation of an autonomous vehicle.
Now, to the business of the day. Have you ever seen a movie and wondered, why is this car moving on its own and still get to its destination without having any challenge on the road. That’s where my article comes in, you should know those vehicles are made with a fusion of different sensors which makes it possible to for them to navigate from one place to another without actually needing much or nothing from the part of the car owner.
WAYMO SELF-DRIVING CAR from Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0 License
The autonomous vehicles also known as driveless vehicles, robotic vehicles or the self-driving vehicle is one mouth-watering development in the world of auto mechanics.
The autonomous vehicles are vehicles that are capable of navigating from one location to another without the influence of man input.
They combine various kinds of sensors using various techniques to sense the environment, they include the radar, laser light, GPS mapping and Computer vision which are responsible for the navigations and identification of obstacles by interpreting the sensory information and exhibiting it on the vehicle. These group of sensors have the capability to analyse sensory data and therefore identifying the motion of other cars and moving pedestrians on the road.
Don’t you guys think it would be a good idea to just sit in your car not worrying about the need of steering your wheels or pressing your legs against some pedals or even worrying about stopping and moving for some other vehicles?. You’d agree with me that the autonomous vehicle is a great idea. It has the ability to sense the traffic and surely it will help to achieve a smooth traffic if eventually everyone gets the autonomous vehicle. It will also help to reduce the rate of accidents caused by human factors like shock, being drunk while driving and other factors that can be caused by human mistakes.
Though some people would not see it as a great idea because they do not want to forfeit the control of their cars due to the fact that they believe they have more control over their cars than some computer. I myself wouldn’t say the autonomous vehicles have no shortcomings, in fact we’re going to be looking at the shortcomings as a sub topic, but one shortcoming that’s very glaring is that it’s controlled by a computer and therefore prone to hacks and that won’t be a good thing.
It will be a good thing if the autonomous vehicle is widely used because you don’t have to get your children drivers to take them to school, or your old man around, all you need is a programmed car to all that for you and to that effect you can avoid getting into the trap of kidnappers.
There was something that got me wowed when I was researching about the autonomous vehicle and that’s the fact that the autonomous vehicle can be traced to the 1920s. That brings us to the history of the autonomous vehicle.
THE AUDI A8 AUTONOMOUS CAR from Wikipedia under CC BY-SA 3.0 License
It surprising to know that some engineers have been working on the autonomous vehicle seventy eight years before even I was born. In the 1920s experiments were carried on the creation of the autonomous vehicle and in the 1950s some promising experiments were carried out too.
In 1977 the first autonomous vehicle was created by the Tsukuba Mechanical Lab in Japan. It was able to sense white street markers and it made the speed of 30km/hr. Other various prototypes where brought to light in the 1980s by some certain labs like the Mellon University’s Navlab, the Mercedes Benz Lab amongst other Labs.
Different prototypes came into existence after those times and were allowed to be tested in 2015, on the roads of Michigan, Nevada, Florida, California and Washington D.C states of the United States.
I saw a video around last year of the Audi A8 which is the latest vehicle from Audi. I was amazed when I saw the car dimmed the left headlamp because it sensed a vehicle coming so as not to disturb the driver of the other car with its headlamp and I said this is the real deal. Do you know how much accidents can be prevented with this technology?, I guess you now know what I meant when I said it’s the real deal.
The Audi A8 is the first manufactured autonomous vehicles that can boast of the level 3 autonomous driving which we are going to discuss under the classification of the autonomous vehicle. It will also be the first autonomous car to use laser scanners together with ultrasonic sensors and camera for their sensory system.
The classification of the autonomous vehicle is based on how important human intervention is on the vehicle. It was published by the SAE international in 2014 which is a body for automotive standardization. The SAE’s classification consists of six levels starting from level 0 to level 5.
Level 0: This is the level that solely needs the intervention of the human influence on the automotive system.
Level 1: This can also be referred to as the “hands on” level because the automated system and the vehicle driver share the control of the vehicle. An example of the level 1 classification of the autonomous vehicle is the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) in which the automated system is responsible for the speed of the vehicle and also acts a parking assistant. The driver is just responsible for the steering of the wheels. The steering in this arrangement is manual and the speed is automatic.
Level 2: This level is also called the “hands off” level because the automated systems takes full control of the acceleration, brake and steering of the vehicle. The driver must be at alert and ready to take control of the vehicle if the automated system fails at any time. In fact, it is mandatory by the SAE that the driver’s hand must be on the steering. So, the term “hands off” doesn’t fully mean “hands off” literarily.
Level 3: It is also known as the “eyes off” level of the classification of the autonomous vehicle because it doesn’t need the driver’s attention in completing driving tasks. I earlier mentioned this level 3 classification in the course of this article when I was talking about the Audi A8 Luxury Sedan 2018 which is the first manufactured vehicle to us this level 3 autonomous system. It as the feature of responding to sudden situations that need immediate actions like the action of the brakes. The driver can be chatting or watching movies while the automated system is driving the vehicle. But one important thing is that the driver must be ready to intervene in cases of system failure. A vehicle like the Audi A8 has the feature called the “Traffic Jam Pilot” which when activated by the vehicle’s owner/driver, the vehicle takes full control and drives in slow moving traffic at about 60 km/hr.
Level 4: This level 4 classification is also known as the “mind of” level because it is related to the level 3 system but it does not require the driver’s attention at all to move the vehicle around. The driver can as well sleep and leave the system to drive the vehicle safely. In this level the self-driving is only possible in geofenced areas or under some other special circumstances like when in a traffic jam. The vehicle should be able to park itself if the driver does not take control when the vehicle leaves these certain areas.
Level 5: It is also called the “steering wheel optional” level of the classification of the autonomous vehicle. As the name implies it has no need of human intervention to drive successfully the vehicle. The robotic taxi is one example. It is one of the beauties of the Artificial Intelligence (A.I) technologies.
Google Co-Founder Brin Shows Secretary Kerry the Sensors Inside a Self-Driving Car from Wikimedia under CC BY-SA 3.0 License
One might be wondering how it is possible for a vehicle to drive itself, I can tell you that with a system of required sensors and devices, it is possible for a vehicle to drive itself. The use of Bayesian Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) helps in the fusion of multiple sensors and an offline mapping system into current location estimates and map updates is important in the creation of self-driving vehicles. Also with the aid of detection and tracking of other moving objects which is a development at google it is possible for the car to sense other cars and pedestrians moving on the same road with the self-driving vehicle. The autonomous vehicle uses a technology called the Sensor Fusion which is responsible for the accumulation of different sensors like the lidar, GPS, stereo vision and IMU, to enhance its ability to drive itself even in the presence of obstacles.
I’m going to outline some benefits which the autonomous vehicles are going to bring into existence when they are fully established.
It aids safety: The driveless vehicles can help prevent accidents such as collisions between two vehicles which may lead to death or severe injuries that are caused by human errors such slow response to sudden reactions and reckless driving. It has been discovered that human factor is mostly the cause of certain accidents. Therefore, the use of autonomous vehicles will help reduce the rate of accidents.
It aids smooth traffic: With the help of the automated system, the vehicle moves a calculated movement and therefore helps to reduce the rate of traffic congestion.
It reduces costs: It is well known that safe driving reduces costs. Take for instance the costs in paying medical bills can be avoided with a safe driving which the autonomous vehicle can provide. Relating to the reduction of costs, in a situation in which you have to employ a personal driver to take you around or your kids to school, the cost of paying your driver cannot be neglected, but with the use of an autonomous system, the cost will not be required.
As we all know there’s nothing in existence with a lot of benefits and no shortcomings at all. The autonomous vehicles also have their own disadvantages, some of the disadvantages will be discussed below;
Due to the fact that the autonomous vehicle is operated by a computer, it is prone to automotive hacking.
It might cause loss of jobs since some individuals drive for a living. With the existence of the autonomous vehicles the commercial drivers will be forced to lose their jobs.
Terrorist attacks can be initiated using autonomous vehicles. All the terrorist needs to do is to place a bomb in the vehicle and program its destination.
Faults in the vehicle can't be discovered easily since the human intervention is little or not at all required.
Another important shortcoming is that of the sensors fail then the whole vehicle is at a very great risk.
The main hindrance to the existence of the autonomous vehicle are the car owners who do not want to forfeit the control over their vehicles. Also, some customers will be too scared to trust the self-driving car to secure their safety. Other obstacles can be some technological issues ranging from the fact that;
Artificial Intelligence is not yet up to its best
The vehicle’s system can be compromised likewise the communication between two vehicles on a road.
The autonomous vehicle’s system might need updating anytime there is a change in the infrastructure of a community.
Competitions might exist between cars in purchase of radio spectrum that is used for their communication.
Here are some cars that are expected to be self-driven as announced by their manufacturers;
Elon Musk is to manufacture an autonomous vehicle at the end of 2018 called the hyperloop.
BMW is to manufacture an electric autonomous vehicle called the iNext which is expected to be ready by 2021.
Toyota and Nissan are expected to market their first self-driving cars by 2020.
VEHICLE MAINTENANCE from Pxhere under CCO License
The fact that faults in machine parts is something humans have been dealing with for quite a long time, it can be predicted that a particular fault is prone to happen at a particular point in time. Therefore, when those time comes, maintenance is being carried out on the vehicle. Other maintenance that cannot be predicted are being under observation and will be programmed with the autonomous vehicle's system so that the AI can either fix it or alert the car owners of the faults.
The autonomous vehicles are the artificial intelligence vehicles which have the features of self-parking, self-driving, automatic emergency brakes, adaptive cruise control and lane keeping ability. It is a great development in the world of automation. With the help of a fusion of sensors and offline maps they are able to sense obstacles and get to their destinations without needing the influence of a human driver.
If you write STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related posts, consider joining #steemSTEM on steemit chat or discord here. If you are from Nigeria, you may want to include the #stemng tag in your post. You can visit this blog by @stemng for more details.