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  • Writer's pictureShiva Prakash M C


An autonomous vehicles will be capable of sensing its surrounding environment and operates without human involvement. A human is not required to take the control of vehicle at any time nor required to be present in the vehicle. An autonomous car can travel similar to that of traditional car and do everything that an experienced human driver does. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has currently defined the automation into 6 levels ranging from Level 0 (fully manual) to Level 5 (fully autonomous).

Under Level 0, there is no automation where the driver needs to take control of steering, acceleration, braking and so on as in case of traditional cars (i.e. Manual Control). In Level 1, one can experience a slight features such as automatic monitoring of speed through cruise control, but there need to be a driver assistance. In Level 2, we can experience a partial automation where the vehicle can perform steering and acceleration on its own, while the human can monitor all the tasks and take control at any time.

In Level 3, it provides a conditional automation under which the vehicle can sense the environmental conditions and drive autonomously, but still the human assistance is required. In Level 4, it involves a higher end of automation where the vehicle can perform all the driving tasks on its own under specific circumstances and human assistance is optional. Under Level 5, one can experience the full automation with vehicle capable of performing driving tasks under all conditions with zero human attention or interaction required.

An autonomous vehicles mainly rely on sensors, actuators, complex algorithms, machine learning systems and powerful processors to execute the software. They create and maintain a map of their surroundings based on the variety of sensors that are situated in different parts of the vehicle. Radar sensors helps in monitoring the position of nearby vehicles, Video cameras detect traffic lights, detects the road signs, track other vehicles and look for pedestrians. While, Lidar (Light detection and ranging) sensor bounces the pulses of light off the vehicle surroundings in order to measure their distances, detect road edges and identify lane markings. Ultrasonic sensors in the wheels will help in detecting curbs and other vehicles while parking.

The Sophisticated software will then processes all the sensor inputs and sends an instruction to actuator of the vehicle, which in turn helps in controlling various tasks like acceleration, braking and steering. The Hard-coded rules, obstacle avoidance algorithms, predictive modeling and an object recognition helps the software to follow traffic rules and navigate obstacles. Some of the main advantages of an autonomous vehicles are, reduced traffic congestion upto 30% fewer vehicles on the roads and transportation costs can be cut down by 40% in terms of vehicles, fuels and their infrastructure.

One of the main motto of an autonomous vehicles is to reduce the urban CO2 emissions by 80% worldwide and it also helps in decreasing the number of accidents that can take place due to human errors by implementing some of the complicated algorithms which can determine the correct stopping distance from one vehicle to another. Some of the disabled people or senior citizens may face difficulty in driving their vehicles, in such cases an autonomous vehicle can provide them a safe and accessible transportation.

A fully autonomous vehicles (Level 5) are still undergoing several tests and the researchers are working on various conditions such as whether multiple autonomous vehicles drive on a same road, heavy precipitation weather conditions and much more, so that one can have the full experience of autonomous ride. We’re still years away from that and it will definitely bring a huge transformation in technology field.

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