Technology has enabled car manufacturers combine the vehicle’s ability to sense the environment and operate without much human interference. Few countries permit automated cars.
How do autonomous cars work?
Like how people use sight and hearing to take a decision while driving, autonomous cars are fed with information to sense and take decisions. These cars make use of technologies such as cameras, GPS, LIDAR and RADAR. Cameras shoot photos and videos and use image recognition technology to take decisions on what lies ahead. RADAR and LIDAR send radio and laser beams, respectively. The reflected echo is sensed to determine what lies ahead of the car. GPS (global positioning system) gives the car real time update on where it is located. Using GPS, traffic ahead can also be monitored.
Levels of automation.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) have classified automation into levels from 0 to 5. Level 0 means no automation and driving only with human involvement. https://www.jdpower.com/cars/shopping-guides/levels-of-autonomous-driving-explained
Level 1. Driver Assistance
This is the lowest level of automation. The car has at least one single automated system installed. Cruise control is one such example where the car measures the relative distance from the traffic ahead and maintains a safe distance between the car and the traffic without human intervention.
Level 2. Partial Automation
The car makes use of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS). Humans monitor the operation and can intervene and take control anytime. An example is Highway Driving Assist. The driver places his/her hands on the steering wheel, but the car actively steers, accelerates and brakes on its own in the highways.
Level 3. Conditional Automation
The car utilises multiple driving assistance systems and AI helps take decisions based on the input of each driving assistance system. Human intervention is not required much but presence of mind is a mandate to take control in case the system fails. An example of level 3 automation is the usage of Traffic Jam Assist, which helps manoeuvre the car in traffic.
Level 4. High Automation
Car can completely take over driving under specific circumstances. The car will be programmed to stop in cases of emergency or failure, meaning human intervention is completely not required.
Geofencing is required and so is human override. The car can operate from point A to B smoothly.
Level 5. Full Automation
The car can perform all driving tasks at all driving conditions. Human intervention is not required in any form.
Are cars completely Self-Driven?
No vehicles available in the market today are completely self-driven (fully automated).