The look and feel of city life are fast changing. The increasing investment for cleaner energy is driving it from one side, and advancements in mobile technologies like Artificial Intelligence(AI), Machine Learning, Blockchain, etc. are driving it from another end. The new smart city is remarkable and has all the definitions of modern life.
A self-driving car is an essential element in the definition of a smart, clean city. Autonomous cars, as we refer to them, have been on the anvil of many big names in the automobile industry for quite some time. GM Motors, Tesla, Wayo and Yandex are some of the big names currently involved in the self-driving car development race. 2019 was supposed to be the year of driverless cars. But companies have extended the deadline further, and as near it comes so far, it seems.
Let’s see where the autonomous car manufacturers are standing as of now and when we can see them rolling out those dream cars onto the roads.
GM Motors is currently working on Chevrolet Cruise AV, which is the perfect example of a fully autonomous car. It has no manual options of taking over and hence lacks pedals and steering wheels. They have been testing many of their versions in the traffic of New York City and Michigan.
Chevrolet Cruise AV works on the intelligence of the processors on board in accelerating, braking and making other essential driving decisions. Thus it leaves no room for human interference at any of these levels. Multiple backup circuits are installed on the car to prevent a complete failure of power, crash detection and navigation.
The smart thing about GM’s Cruise is that it allows the passengers to engage with the car very effectively. The touch screens in front of their seats provide them with the power to make stops en route to their destination.
It looks like GM or a partner will operate the car fleets. What makes GM Cruise unique is the ability to deploy hundreds of cars through its assembly lines in Orion and Michigan. It means we may see GM making Uber-like taxi apps to run their large fleet pretty soon. The machine learning techniques used by GM cars, cloud-based equipment and IoT sensors for data capturing are all unique in their own way.
Waymo is again making news for pushing the date of release of the autonomous car further back. The chief-external-officer Tekedra N.Mawakana said the hype around the self-driving vehicles had become just “unmanageable.” He blames media reporting for causing the hype and said that progress was steady but not fast enough.
Waymo is testing their cars in Phoenix, Arizona. The Waymo self-driving car will have Lidars, cameras, radars, cameras and microphones to detect sounds like ambulance sirens. It equates its external sensors to the five humans’ sense organs. Waymo depends on its deep learning algorithms to make it the safest self-driving cars. The touch screen behind the front seats let travelers see the vehicles around in blue. It updates on stops and conveys messages to the passengers.
However, the signals are mixed from Waymo as the new Austin plant shut due to a delay in commercializing the self-driving car concept. Let’s see where the future pans out for Waymo.
The company is known for its expertise in machine learning, cloud-based technologies, navigation and mapping techniques. Yandex is one of the pioneers in AI-driven autonomous car production and is making steady progress in its various applications. Recently, it announced the possible release of a self-driving robot called Rover capable of delivering goods automatically without any assistance by next year.
The main features of the Yandex self-driving cars are retrofitted radars, Lidars and a camera to check out obstacles surrounding the vehicle. The car, however, has a manual take over of the car so it has steerings, pedals and a kill switch to allow a human to take over. A safety engineer thus roams in the side seat to avert any mishaps.
The progress of Yandex in automated car making is remarkable. Yandex cars are currently running in the heavy traffic of Moscow, Tel Aviv and Las Vegas. They have completed more than 4000 passenger rides and have crossed one million miles of autonomous driving.
Yandex is on the way to create level 4 and 5 autonomous vehicles, which will match the GM motor concept of no manual drives. The MoU signed with Hyundai Mobis this March is a move in this direction. Yandex is now ubiquitous for the passengers in Innopolis and aims to go fully automated in three to five years.
It’s always better to save the best for the last. Yes, it’s Tesla cars we’re talking about, and they’re way different and ahead of all other competitors. Tesla says their vehicle would have been already on the road but for the rechecks in simulation. The Uber accident involving the death of a pedestrian is the real reason for rechecks.
Tesla cars use powerful radar and ultrasonic sensors to view their surroundings. The cameras and computers do the rest of the work with intelligent learning. Tesla cars are known for their aversion for Lidars and are looking to leverage laser technology to clean and sense specks of dirt in cameras.
On the competition side, Tesla is way ahead of all the other competitors with completion of 1.88 billion autonomous miles this October. So its longer training gives it more intelligence than cars with fewer miles. The second thing to look out for is the combination of laser, ultrasonic and passive video, which is cheaper than lidars. Tesla cars have thus a real competitive advantage over other companies and is set to launch a self-driving car this quarter.
Finally, it’s not just about bringing the car on the road faster but to win the trust of the passengers. Safely tested and economically viable automated vehicles are sure to win the hearts of passengers. Only the future can tell which company is going to actualize on their vision and promises.