In the wake of Uber's fatal crash, most of the companies have halted their self-driving tests. Experts have long worried that a negative public reaction to the first serious accidents involving self-driving vehicles could cool enthusiasm for the technology and lead to excessive regulations. But I firmly believe the public has shown a slight sign of turning against the technology. So the companies should weigh more on attuning the systems.

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.– Confucius quote

In 9 out of 10 accidents resulting fatalities or major injuries mistake by the drivers are the contributing factors. And on an average, every American car owner spends 750 hours per year driving and the same in Europe is around 300 hours. A well rounded autonomous car will be ubiquitous and will save millions of the lives, reduce the carbon footprint and will reinvent the urban transportation by being a self-driving servant to groups.

Like every other industry, Computer vision and machine learning have/will transform the automotive industry for good. And we are right in the middle of this transformation. And the idea of the world dominated by self-driving cars is no longer possible but inevitable as almost every prominent company is competing in this market. All these companies are seeking to formulate Level 4 or Level 5 autonomous cars (SAE defined levels of autonomy)

Major Automobile Companies

  • Tesla
  • Volvo
  • Toyota
  • Ford
  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Daimler
  • Volkswagen
  • General Motors
  • Renault-Nissan
  • PSA
  • Honda
  • Hyundai
  • Kia

Major Tech Companies

  • Mobile Eye
  • Drive.ai
  • Waymo
  • NVIDIA drive
  • Uber
  • Lyft
  • Baidu

To give a simple explanation of the inner workings, Autonomous driving is fusing the information emitted by the Lidar, Radar and Cameras sensors with powerful GPU processing capabilities to deliver simple commands to the car. In a regular car, the driver is responsible for actions like

  • Prediction
  • Localization
  • Perception
  • Prediction
  • Anticipation
  • Routing
  • Motion Planning
  • Control
  • Interaction

It is not going to be simple and will be nothing less than a gargantuan task. But is worth doing as it is a welcoming sign that the cars will be driven by computers rather than by slow-witted and scatterbrained humans.

Conclusion

Though it is alluring to oust the easily-distracted human out of the driving equation which in turn will reduce the road deaths. However, the systems aren’t ready yet as we don't know how to deal with unforeseen circumstances and its capability to replicate super-human sight and reaction times. But shortly the availability of better sensors, more data & bandwidth at low latencies, enhanced computing power and less price sensitivity will have to be the triggers that will push us out of the middle ground and will permit us to access to autonomous cars.

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