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9 – Things you should know about autonomous vehicles

by Dr Prem Community Writer

Autonomous vehicles are the future, whether we like it or not. Car manufacturers are pointing out the many advantages, such as reduced accidents as well as fatalities. We can expect autonomous vehicles on roads as well as in the skies. These cars are already operating in some parts of the world. There would be many questions in your mind, and here we have to find some answers.

9 – Things you should know about an autonomous vehicle

What exactly is an autonomous vehicle?

It’s a vehicle which automates the driving task, basically you will not be driving the car. The vehicle need not be a car, it could be an autonomous tractor or electric scooter. These vehicles are also called ‘self-driving’ or ‘driverless’ cars.

To be classified as a driverless car, the car/vehicle has to have certain features such as:

1. The choice to drive

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If you decide to buy an autonomous vehicle, the vehicle should have the choice of being driven by humans, i.e. you. You might want to drive it when you’re going on a road trip and there is less traffic. If the streets are full of traffic, then you can assign the driving job to the car, and you might catch up on your reading or work. But, as a recent self-driving car accident showed, even if you don’t drive, it’s best to be alert so that you can take the controls if need be and prevent a mishap.

2. Naming your car

Strangely enough, experts found that commuting stress could be reduced by just naming the car. Meaning, that you might find it easier to give up the controls if you personify your car.

3. Your autonomous vehicle may or may not be hacked

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One of the things you should know is that all autonomous cars have a sophisticated security system. Even so, hackers might find a way to hack your car security, especially if you connect the car to public networks. Try to find an autonomous vehicle which has extremely secure Wi-Fi access.

4. Self-driving cars are eco friendly

These cars are either electric or hybrid, so they do not pollute the environment with their emission.

5. These cars are equipped with the finest navigation systems

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Radar, Laser and Camera scanners work in tandem to sense the activity around the autonomous vehicle, such as positions of cars, obstacles and pedestrians. The hi-tech sensors also register the lane markings to enable easy parking.

But when the markings are hidden by snow, fog or other climatic conditions, then the cars seem to have difficulty in parking or sensing the markings. So you should wait and watch before buying a self-driving car, and buy one when this very important issue is resolved.

But when all the navigation systems are working fine, and the lane markings are not obscured, then it’s a dream to park the car. Or rather, it parks itself, maneuvering cleanly into the smallest of spaces.

6. Packed with safety features

The cars are packed with numerous safety features, including collision warning system, drowsiness alerts, 360 degree cameras, adaptive cruise control (monitoring and keeping cars in a safe distance from cars at the front), lane keeping assist (saves from accidental veering), electronic stability control, and many more.

One of the popular myths about self-driving cars is that they are not as safe as human driven cars. But when the most of the cars on road are autonomous, the streets may actually be safer.

7. These cars are priced too high right now

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If you’re not a millionaire or slightly less than that, it’s best to wait till the cars become mass produced in greater quantities and the price tag comes down. If you can’t wait, you might buy a semi-autonomous car which would be cheaper than the fully autonomous ones. Experts suggest the price would come down even more in a year or two.

8. Autonomous vehicles cannot make split second decisions

This is a consideration which you have to sit and think about. The navigation system may be alert enough, but if there is any glitch then is there an option for the car to take the right decisions. Autonomous car developers are constantly testing scenarios which raise questions as to how the machine car should behave in emergencies. Humans make split-second decisions unconsciously, but it is difficult to teach a computer to take these kind of decisions.

It is expected that many common scenarios will have standardized answers/decisions, but there is still some time till we get there.

9. Will you rent or will you buy?

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One of the most popular myths about self-driving cars is that you will have to rent them rather than buy them. Though initially you may have to rent, but when the prices come down and the cars become widely available, you can buy one for yourself.

As of now, autonomous vehicles are still in the future, just as PCs and colored television was. But scientists are working on the tech even as you read this, and soon enough you will be able to commute in your very own self-driving car.

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