Imagine a world full of self-driven vehicles. We will need no driver for travelling. Interesting, right? It is not the future. This is the reality of today. Also, today scientists have invented many self-driving cars. These cars are the dream of every human.
In this article, we are going to discuss autonomous vehicles. So, let us start!
Humans have been travelling from one place to another since civilization. However, the need to travel has changed over time and so has the means of travelling.
Today, the means for travelling is completely running manually. However, a time will soon be there when it all goes automatic.
Well, speaking of not going manual, comes autonomous vehicles.
2. Autonomous Transport System
We already have driverless cars. So, this is not a futuristic vision but it’s a reality. As these vehicles are driverless they can run 24/7. These shuttles have e-drivers. They can run bi-directionally. Also, they could achieve a speed of more than 40 kilometers per hour.
Designers equip radar and cameras in automated vehicles. Also, there are complete 360-degree audio sensors in it. So, they can continuously locate safe and efficient driving paths.
These vehicles can travel independently through traffic. These vehicles will bring natural flexibility to public transportation. Also, it enables seamless mobility of transport.
Autonomous shuttles mean less traffic and less congestion. Also, these vehicles will help to reduce emissions, thereby, improving the air quality of the cities.
The autonomous transport system ensures comfort. Also, it has enhanced safety. So, now we will talk about different types of autonomous vehicles.
3. Self-Driving Cars
Today, there are several cars with driver assistance features. But we can’t say that these cars are autonomous. These cars handle some specific tasks. But it can’t control all things automatically.
Now, designers are moving focus to create fully autonomous vehicles. Few companies are testing driverless cars. These vehicles can navigate fully autonomously. So, we can reach the destination without driving.
WAYMO is one such autonomous car. It offers a driverless taxi system. Also, it travels only on the roads. The roads that the human drivers map.
The creation of for fully autonomous car can save many lives. Up to 1.3 million lives from accidental deaths. So, it will be the most significant achievement in the field of technology.
Autonomous cars should be able to navigate the correct path. These can be easier by hybrid navigation. Hybrid navigation uses a combination of satellite-based systems.
These cars avoid obstacles on the road. The laser light launches a continuous beam on the target. The transmitter then receives the reflected signal from which the information is calculated.
The information may be about the height and position of an object. This system is lidar technology.
4. Lidar Systems
LiDAR stands for Light, Detection, and Ranging. This is a remote-sensing technology that lights to measure ranges.
These lidar systems can be categorized into three types. The three types are single-line, multiline, and omnidirectional.
Single-line lidar uses a single laser source. It scans in a 2D plane.
Multiple line system uses multiple beams. These beams range from 4 to 512 laser sources. The use of a multiline system is to generate height information.
The omnidirectional lidar system is one of the complex systems. It performs sweeps in all axes. The sweeping produces a far denser 3D cloud of the surrounding environment.
The omnidirectional lidar offers the best detection ability. Also, it detects low-reflective objects. It has superior ambient light rejection. Also, it has better penetration.
5. Radar System
The radar system is also used for sensing autonomous vehicles. Generally, it is used for distance detection. This radar system comes in three variants.
The use of this system is for blind spot monitoring. Also, in lane keeping radar systems can be used. Again, it helps with parking. The use of the medium range is for obstacle detection. Long-range radars are also used for the same.
The distance radar is highly immune to dust. It is a fast-acting technology. Also, relatively inexpensive to implement.
However, driving a vehicle requires a high level of understanding of the environment. Avoiding obstacles is not enough.
Following proper rules is required. Also, practices and traffic behaviour are important aspects. Autonomous vehicles should have the ability to adapt to changes as and when required.
Scientists need to find more autonomous systems to replace human drivers. Also to make the entire transport system self-driving.
6. Autonomous Trucks
Autonomous trucks are not so common on roads today. But soon technological advances will make it possible. There are already a few driverless trucks present.
The self-driving truck developed by PLUS is a notable example. PLUS is a Chinese autonomous Trucking startup. It is an automatic truck. This truck can travel over 1200 miles without any human help.
This autonomous truck uses a combination of sensors and cameras. This is for automated driving. Machine learning algorithms are used to navigate the road. Also, it is used to avoid obstacles.
WABI is also an autonomous truck. Prominent AI researcher Raquel Urtasun founded it. WABI is applying AI and simulations to trucks. The company uses simulation to train its AI learning algorithm.
Autonomous trucks have many uses for humankind. The innovation will lead to increased safety. Also, this will reduce the cost. Automated driving will increase the efficiency of trucks.
7. Future Of Transportation
By 2050, global transportation will be vastly different from today. Here, we will discuss future autonomous vehicles.
6.1 Autonomous Electric Vehicles
In the future cars will be fully electric and autonomous. Also, new battery technologies for cars will be introduced. The car brands will follow Tesla’s lead.
The current gas stations will disappear in the future. So, charging stations will be their replacement for gas stations. These charging stations will refuel the vehicles. Refuelling will be done within ten minutes. So, this will lead to widespread self-driving technology.
Autonomous trucks will be able to deliver shipments over the country. This is done without human drivers. On a smaller scale, small vans will do the same. Robots can be also used for this.
Also, the delivery drones will make the shipments without any human interaction. These drones will be great for instant short-distance delivery.
6.2 New Generation Of Urban Transport
By 2050, the global urban population will increase by 2 billion people. For accommodating, all the roads must be 3D. 3D roads mean either flying cars or tunnels.
Shortly, cities have thousands of tunnels. Also, there will be flying vehicles. Cities will be filled up with air taxis. These taxis will quickly transport passengers through the skies.
On the ground, there will be electrical robot taxis. These taxis will be self-driven. So, these will shuttle people around cities. Above the streets, there will be gyroscopic buses. These are buses hovering over the street traffic.
There will be digitally rentable electrical scooters. Also, bikes will be on the sides of the roads.
6.3 High-Speed And Long-Distance Transit
In the future high-speed railways will be everywhere. Also, many new projects will quickly transport commuters. Some trains will use Maglev technology. Maglev trains will run at the highest speed. So, these trains will compete with the speed of commercial jets.
Some trains will use hydrogen as a source of fuel. Otherwise, the trains will go electrical.
Hyperloops are vacuum-sealed maglev trains. These trains will revolutionize long-distance ground transportation. Also, these hyperloop systems will vastly outpace traditional airlines.
Various companies are competing to get the technology. There will be a hyperloop system all around the world in the future.
6.5 Ultramodern Aerial Transportations
The supersonic jets will get back in the future. Many companies are trying to get them back into service by 2030. These jets will be four times faster than normal airliners.
But these jets may cause climate change. So, to avoid this these jets should go green. Electrical supersonic planes will be a good option to avoid climate change.
For shorter distances, electric-powered planes will be great. But we will need hydrogen fuel jets to cover the longer distance.
6.6 The Electric Boats and Super Containers
Shortly, the ships will be electrical. Currently, small-scale boats are being developed. Various companies are building solar-powered electric boats.
Large-scale ships will try to go green in the future. This ship will use hydrogen fuel cells and batteries. This will power the containers.
In Norway, there is already a fully autonomous electric ship is present. The ship is YARA BIRKELAND. Now, the company FLAGSHIP is trying to build the world’s first solar-powered container ship.
Soon, solar and hydrogen-powered ships will dominate the shipping industry. The ships will glide across the ocean with zero emissions.
7. Intelligent Transport System
Autonomous and future transportation systems will be safer and smarter. This will save money, time, and fuel. Also, it will save our taxes in the long run.
With the special sensors, the vehicle will automatically detect the signal of obstacles.
Now let us see some futuristic autonomous vehicles.
Welcome to the future. The Aeromobil is a real flying car. The designers of Aeromobil have managed to combine this functionality with its superstructure.
The use of Aeromobil is for its aerial capabilities. It is a vehicle equipped with style. Elegance and efficiency are key characteristics of Aeromobil.
Also, this car can travel on both ground and air. It can be switched into flying mode in just 3-4 minutes. On the ground, the speed of this flying car will be much faster. So, it will reduce the travelling time.
The aeromobil will be much faster than the traditional planes. Again, it’s less time-consuming and less stressful. Traditional planes are social. But Aeromobil will be personalized.
We will need a pilot license to drive these vehicles. But these flying cars will be also autonomous over time. So, no need to worry about learning to fly the car!
7.2 Underground Tunnels for Transportation
Various companies are working on these projects. The creation of underground tunnels is the goal. The use of tunnels will be for transportation.
These tunnels are just like normal underground tunnels. But a major difference is these tunnels will be electric. It will increase the speed of cars.
These tunnels will be mainly designed for cars. The tunnels will provide an obstacle-free path.
There will be an elevator trolly. This trolly will wield down the vehicle. Then the vehicle will run through the plane’s electric paths. So, the cars will not need to use their propeller mechanism. It is just like an autonomous process.
Later, this elevator trolly will lift the car to the end of the path. And again the car will access a regular road. These trolleys will be constantly connected to power sources.
7.3 Gyroscopic Transport
This is a second-level transport system. This system is like transit elevated buses.
Here, the vehicle will crawl the street like a moving bridge. The plan is to fit the roof of the deck with solar panels. These solar panels will give energy to the vehicle. This will ensure the constant charging of the deck. So, the deck will work continuously.
Each rack will have its motor and sensors. This will help the vehicle recognize what’s happening on the street. Building this gyroscopic transport system is much cheaper than traditional rail systems.
Each time any obstacle blocks the way, the rack will lift up and down independently. This means the gyroscopic transport system can avoid minor traffic jams. Also, accidents will be prevented.
As of now, this vehicle exists as a digital prototype only. But very soon it will run on the roads.
8. Ethical Problems Of Autonomous Vehicles
Imagine you are riding an autonomous car. Then you find that you are boxed on all sides by other cars. Suddenly a large object from a truck falls in front of you. And your car can’t stop in time to avoid a collision. So, in these scenarios, it’s tough for AI to make decisions.
It is predicted that self-driving cars will dramatically reduce road accidents because these autonomous vehicles will remove human error.
Plus there are other benefits too. Self-driving autonomous vehicles decrease harmful emissions. Also, it will reduce unproductive and stressful driving time.
But accidents can and will still happen. However, the outcomes may be determined earlier by programmers and policymakers. It will reduce the harm in accidents.
Let us assume the previous scenario, that, you find that you are boxed in all sides by other cars. Making the decision is challenging for AI. The AI can decide to collide with which car will be of low harm.
Suppose there are two bikers—one with a helmet and another with no helmet. The AI will decide to collide with the biker with a helmet because the biker with a helmet has more chance to survive than the other one.
But ethically the biker with the helmet is following all the rules. So, is it right to harm that biker? The biker without a helmet breaks the rules. So, it’s not okay to penalize the biker with a helmet.
The ethical considerations get more complicated here. Also, the target vehicle’s owner will suffer this algorithm’s negative consequences.
Above we discussed autonomous vehicles and how they can be the future of transportation. There are many uses for this technology. Autonomous vehicles will save us time and energy. The unproductive time that we use for driving could be saved.
The future of transportation is bright. The advancements in transport will connect the whole world through a network.
However, there are several ethical dilemmas in it. Our new technologies open up many ethical dilemmas. The above-discussed situation creates a big question about things. So it is important to consider ethical concerns.
Is it still okay to create an autonomous vehicle that will minimize harm? It’s far more unethical than the random decisions taken by humans at the instance. Who should be the decision maker? Programmers, Companies, or Government?
Besides these points, there are several other aspects. Scientists design vehicles to isolate stress. Every discovery in the field of science has some ethical issues. But over time we will be able to resolve all the issues.
So, our future transportation system will make us a modern civilization in true aspects. What do you think about autonomous transportation?
What ethics should we follow while inventing autonomous cars? Write in the comment section.