Self Driving Cars Essay

1380 Words6 Pages
1. Introduction/overview of topic and issues to be discussed: While the idea of self-driving cars seems futuristic and far away, society is actually very close to seeing them on the road. Taking the wheel away from humans and putting them into the hands of computers and artificial intelligence will obviously change travel forever. As a result, there are many questions that need to be addressed before people feel comfortable trusting automated vehicles. What type of technology will be necessary to ensure self-driving cars operate safely and think like humans? Will they really make roads safer? Will people buy them? How will they affect traffic? 2. History of cars and self-driving vehicles First, lets begin with the progression of cars towards…show more content…
Early innovations included the electric starter, four-wheel hydraulic brakes, windshield wipers, automatic transmission, power steering, front-wheel drive, and independent suspension. By the 1940s, as cars were already established in society and began to modernize, manufacturers started improving the appearance of cars and the power of engines (Hosansky). In the 21st century, environmental concerns drove manufacturers to design electric cars and hybrid engine cars. Constant developments caused some people, including Francis P. Houdina, to dream of science fiction type scenarios when one day, cars could drive themselves (Hosansky). In 1925, Houdina presented a radio-controlled, driverless car that navigated traffic on Broadway and Fifth Avenue in New York City (Hosansky). Houdina’s vehicle had an antenna that allowed it to be controlled by a second car, which followed closely and sent out radio signals. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, testing proved that buried magnetic cables could manipulate cars. Yet, technological advancement had some believing that vehicles could be designed to operate themselves without special roadway devices (Hosansky). Congress passed legislation in 1991 requesting that the U.S. Department of Transportation present an automated vehicle and highway system. This legislation sparked multiple demonstrations of automated vehicles, such as…show more content…
While most people haven’t noticed, many of the important features that would be required for self-driving cars already exist. Many vehicles utilize Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, or ADAS, such as rearview cameras, lane monitoring, and self-braking systems (Snyder). As one could imagine, employing enough ADAS essentially allows vehicles to operate themselves. Another concern of self-driving vehicles is their ability to react to obstacles and obey traffic laws. Google has implemented a laser system and other sensors to account for this issue. Google engineer Chris Urmson, states that the Velodyne 64-beam laser, “is the heart of our system” (Guizzo). The laser produces a comprehensive 3D map of the surrounding environment; then the car uses the laser measurements and other maps to analyze data models, allowing it to drive while avoiding obstacles and respecting traffic laws. Additionally, four radars attached on the front and rear bumpers enable the car to "see" far enough to assess fast traffic on freeways and a camera positioned near the rear-view mirror that identifies traffic lights makes it seem as if a human is behind the wheel
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