The Future of Autonomous Cars

Jordan Walters, Staff Writer

Autonomous, provided by webster – “acting independently or having the freedom to do so,” also known as self-driving, vehicles are becoming more prominent and readily available to the public.

The self-driving car idea was popularized by Tesla, with their premium electric sedans and SUVs such as the Model X, Model S, and the upcoming Model 3.

Companies such as Tesla, BMW, Volvo, and even Google are pioneers on putting their self-driving cars on the road.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek news, Uber released their self-driving cars to the public in Pittsburgh in August of 2016.

The Huffington Post provides four levels of self-driving:

  1. Driver Assisted – Intelligent features adding a layer of safety and comfort but still requiring a human driver.
  1. Conditional Automation – Allowing the car to become a co-pilot managing most driving functions in known (mapped) areas, a human driver is still expected to manage vehicle operation.
  1. HIgh Automation – Capable of performing all driving functions. Fully self-driving in most road conditions and environments without human interaction, yet a functional driver cockpit is still in place.
  1. Fully Autonomous – Vehicle is completely driverless. These vehicles will not feature a driver cockpit and will look different from the cars of the past.

Most companies, as of right now, are focusing on the High Automation level of cars, but are still able to perform driverless functions such as Tesla’s Summon feature. The Summon feature allows you to use your phone to summon your Tesla to you through tight spaces, according to Tesla.

Other standard functions of driverless cars consist of Forward Collision Avoidance, Backup Cameras, Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication, and Lane Detection.

Since these new driverless cars will run off of electricity, we will need a way to mass charge them, as opposed to the traditional way of pumping gas into your car, Tesla has a solution: charging stations across the nation and Tesla’s own Superchargers, Tesla’s Superchargers can charge for 170 miles in as little as 30 minutes, according to Tesla research.

The future roads of America may be filled with cars driving themselves while drivers are busy on their phones, at least then it’ll be safe.