Sunday 20 April 2014

How they work: Driverless cars

Handout photo of the Google self-driven car in Las Vegas
Handout photo of the Google self-driven car in Las Vegas

Driverless cars were once the stuff of science fiction but they have now become a reality due to advances in technology.

Some of this technology is already used in high-end cars such as the Mercedes S500, which uses onboard radar and 3D stereoscopic cameras to gauge the distance from other cars.

The position, direction and speed of a car on the road can be measured using satellite navigation systems that are already in widespread use.

Google is testing a "self-driving car" in the USA which contains cameras, radar, antennas, and satellite navigation technology. It has a human driver who can intervene in the event of an emergency. It has carried out demonstrations showing the car bringing a man with 90pc sight loss to buy a taco and pick up his dry cleaning.

The 'New Yorker' magazine recently reported how the 'Google Car' never gets drowsy or distracted and never wonders who has the right-of-way on the road. On one occasion, it slowed to a crawl while travelling through a wooded area at night. This puzzled the human driver on board until he spotted a deer walking along the side of the road -- which the car had spotted in advance using its "see-in-the-dark" systems.

US-based researcher IHS Automotive Inc predicts that driverless cars will be available for sale to the public in 2025. It says by 2035, 11.8 million self-driving cars will be sold annually.

Irish Independent

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