The future of transportation is moving towards driverless cars. With artificial intelligence revolutionising our lives, the reality of autonomous car tech is becoming more prevalent by the day. Driverless cars are getting closer to becoming an everyday norm than we think. Almost each day we get to know about a new development in this space. It’s not just car manufacturers that have entered this space in a big way but also ride sharing services as well as tech giants such as Apple and Google. Trial runs are already underway with stunning results. Apple self driving cars are spotted regularly on the streets. Within the forthcoming decade, cars would navigate and park all by themselves and road accidents may become a thing of the past.
An interesting industrial update reveals that Uber has indicated that it's currently in talks with Waymo to consider adding Waymo minivans to its self-driving fleet. Waymo Meanwhile is making a large push in the US with a fleet of 62,000 Fiat Chrysler minivans. It also hopes to expand into Europe, although it may require a strategic partner to compete with the more established European brands. To add to the competition, GM has received a colossal investment from SoftBank to help it prepare for more road testing and eventually a commercially available line of autonomous vehicles.
Although the driverless car industry is set to grow, the unfortunate part in the journey is the accidents surrounding driverless cars, some of which have been fatal. It goes to show that the technology that the cars use to spot pedestrians and other obstacles and avoid collisions is yet to be perfected.
Google’s Waymo put has put AI inside virtual cars and has had the vehicles drive billions of virtual miles, throwing every perceivable obstacle and situation at the cars to see how they respond. The AI understands what actions lead to crashes, and accordingly learns how to drive on actual roads. To capture the visual surroundings, most self-driving cars have a combo of three visual systems, namely the video cameras, radar and lidar. The AI synthesizes the data from these to fully map out the surroundings and look out for unexpected obstacles. Most driverless cars require all three as well as visual cameras and deep learning software to interpret objects like street lights and stop signs. While radar captures most obstacles instantly, the lidar works better in spotting the smaller obstacles.
With an increasing number of companies applying for permits to test driverless cars on public roads, there’s more public scrutiny on the tech than ever before. It would be interesting to know how companies like Apple, Google, Uber, Tesla and others train artificial intelligence to see the road and address this issue. It would also be interesting to know the latest details on countries that allow driverless car testing in public and the companies that are developing the smartest self-driving artificial intelligence (AI) models as well as the future of the driverless car industry in the next few years.