We used to watch movies categorized as Science fiction, but a wave of technological advances and futuristic product conceptions is changing the Science fiction to science fact.
It all started with the smart phones that are getting smarter and smarter, to a level that now users are able to ask the phones simple queries and get a close enough answer, thanks to Apple Siri and Android’s Google Now, that are even getting integrated in new cars ;
Then came the smart Watches an attempt to provide an alternative to the smartphone but was not successful probably due to the lack of being backed up by a major technology player like Google or Apple or even Microsoft;
But the real next level step now are the smart cars, and i’m not talking about the cars of the “SMART” brand, i’m talking about the autonomous cars that will be available by the end of the decade, and should represent 75% by 2040 according to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) recently released predictions.
IEEE also predicts an absence of traffic signs since highly evolved, self-driving cars won’t need them, and it believes that the full deployment of smartCars could eliminate the need for driver’s licenses.
So far, several milestones are being achieved, by different companies,
GM expects to produce partially autonomous cars at a large scale by 2015, and fully autonomous cars a by the end of the decade.
Audi and BMW have also developed self-driving car projects, with the former working with Stanford to pilot a modified TT up Pikes Peak.
Vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) is being tested in a NHTSA field trial in Ann Arbor, allowing cars to share situational data to avoid crashing into each other.
Volvo is testing the concept of using “road trains” in Europe to allow for more efficient driving.
Google already has a fleet of fully autonomous Toyota Prius hybrids that have traveled over 300,000 miles.
Dubai, city Masdar, has a fleet of drivelers cars already operational, here’s how these driveless cars work and how it will probably be the case of future cars, according to the Director of the Masdar City PRT project, Robbert:
The vehicles operate according to virtual routes on a known layout of the area where they are allowed to drive. Once they start driving they continuously calculate their position by measuring the distance driven (by measuring the wheel revolutions) and the direction of travel (by measuring the steering angle and by use of a gyro). As this is somewhat inaccurate (through different weights, loads, wheel spin, etc.) it is necessary to calibrate the calculation with the actual position of the vehicle. For this purpose external reference points (passive magnets embedded in the road surface) are used. These are located approximately every two meters. The accuracy of driving is within 2 centimeters as a result.
Dr. Alberto Broggi,director of a 2010 project that successfully piloted two driverless cars on an 8,000-mile road trip, points out that the two current types of self-driving cars will need less infrastructure, not more.
“The Google cars are based on very precise maps and they have sensing primarily based on a LIDAR technology,” While “The cars that he tested on a 8000 miles route had no maps, and had sensing primarily based on cameras. In both cases, the cars have no help from the infrastructure.”