Autonomous cars are becoming a reality. There is less and less time left before we will be surrounded by a variety of vehicles with autonomous driving systems on a mass scale. According to forecasts, by 2030, more than half of the cars in the world will be equipped with autopilot systems. So it will not be long before we will be sitting in the car, instead of steering the car, setting the route, leaning back in a comfortable seat, reading our favorite book, newspaper, or magazine, or spending time on the road watching a movie, and trusting the computer to take us on the road.
Do you think this is fantasy and that technology is still very, very far away? No, you’re wrong. Autonomous technology has already arrived in the automotive industry. For example, the new generation of the Mercedes E-Class has an autonomous system that operates at speeds of up to 120 km/h and can operate the car in a semi-automatic mode without the participation of the driver.
Here’s a list of what the E-Class autopilot can do:
– Auto speed selection.
– Autobraking to maintain distance
– Auto-emergency braking to prevent a collision
– Automatic cruising speed control (adaptive cruise control)
– Auto lane control
– Auto lane change
– Auto traffic light and road sign monitoring
Why, then, is this system called semi-autonomous? Despite all these autonomous functions of autopilot, it is still not possible to drive without a driver, because, for example, during overtaking the driver must control the speed and maneuver, because the radar system of the car is not yet so perfect and perfect, which does not allow the electronics to estimate at a sufficient level the speed of neighboring cars.
Also, the current autonomous driving technology installed in the new E-Class is set up in such a way that the system leaves a large distance between two cars to reduce the speed smoothly if necessary. But in case someone sharply changes lanes in front of you, the automatic system can work with a delay, or reduce speed too sharply. This is why the driver still needs to control the road, even with autopilot mode on.
In addition, full autopilot systems are still legally prohibited worldwide. The whole point is that there are some questions about the electronic autopilot systems of vehicles. For example, there is a problem, which is the correct choice of the car’s actions in the event of an emergency?
For example, where will the autonomous car go if a child runs out onto the road? What if the electronics decide to make a maneuver towards the sidewalk, to prevent the death of a child? But at this moment, there are people and possibly children on the sidewalk. How would an autonomous system make a decision? And there can be a lot of such situations on the road. Initially, all of them should be provided for and spelled out in the algorithms of the autopilot’s actions. It is also necessary to stipulate, at the legislative level, who will be responsible for an accident with an autonomous vehicle.
At the moment, this is why no country in the world has yet officially authorized the use of fully autonomous cars on public highways. The only exceptions are California and Nevada, where the U.S. authorities have allowed the use of an experimental autonomous Google car on some roads. This is done to test the car for safety. By mid-2016, it is planned that the U.S. authorities will approve the world’s first uniform rules for autonomous cars to drive on roads in America.
There are also plans to legislate the possibility of controlling the car by a computer system. That is, the U.S. authorities are ready to officially issue a driver’s license to a “robot” (autopilot).