Self-driving cars are developing fast. Technology is rapidly doubling. Are you prepared? Is a future autonomous Tesla model by Elon Musk your dream car?
Transition on the Horizon
To understand the significant impact of self-driving cars and how it will change our world, it is important to first understand the technology revolution. We will bravely attempt to do so in a couple of sentences. Technological computational ability has been exponentially doubling on itself since Gordon Moore noticed this phenomenon in the 60s. Today, it has reached the point where self-driving vehicles exist. But beyond the vehicle, a whole network of technology supports self-driving cars.
Satellite technology is necessary as a means by which signals can be buffered and interpreted. Tracking technology, and computation is integral in all modern vehicles. With self-driving cars, this is expanded in a way that may be described as exponential in comparison to previous vehicular computation.
Basically, vehicles that drive themselves have an onboard computer that is highly sophisticated, and manages varying sensors which help determine where the car should be on the road. Self-driving cars are yet to be deemed fully trustworthy, and there have been accidents. But surprisingly, this isn’t self-driving cars primary risk.
A Network in Expansion
IoT: the Internet of Things with everyday objects and devices all interconnected via the internet enabling the sending and receiving of data.
Everything today is networked together via what is known as the “Internet of Things” or IoT. Smartphones, computers, tablets, LED lighting in your home, air-conditioning, smartwatches, and your car; all are part of the “Internet of Things”. This means all have remote access possibility and software interface. This means they can be hacked – and we’re not talking the “good” kind of life hacks you read in excellent articles such as on this site. Imagine if your car kidnaps you! Decepticons and fake taxis in real life!
To avoid hacking and properly provide coverage for a network of vehicles automatically transporting people from location to location, remote control functionality needs to be fundamental in self-driving cars. Imagine a situation where something impacts control of a vehicle, sending a signal to a remote safety office where employees are standing by to take the wheel and avoid an accident. Statistically, this could represent a reasonable means of bridging the technological gap.
This could also mean your vehicle is no longer your own. Imagine if you wake up one morning rushing like you do every day to go to work. But your car refuses to start. Your car then proceeds to tell you that you have missed one payment too many on your car loan instalment, before driving itself back to the dealership. An increase in automated driving technology naturally yields to a lessening of personal control while increasing the network’s control.
Edge Computing: optimisation of cloud computing networks and apps to take part of the computing required from the central node/core to the logical extremes/edge of the internet enabling data analysis and processing to be done at the source.
Today, edge computing already uses IoT devices on a company’s premises to “float” an “edge network”. Cloud computing networks servers together to spread out the strain of computing. Edge networks do the same, but with more than servers. If millions of vehicles become automatically enabled, you can be sure an edge/cloud hybrid will network their computers together for means of safety and control. Travel could be remotely planned and even restricted in the future!
Making an Educated Decision
Maybe you like having that kind of networked control providing a safety net for your driving. Or maybe you would prefer not have your autonomy taken away by an computer you can’t control, and is susceptible to hacking and glitches.
Everyone differs, but the key here is looking at all angles and making an informed decision. There are online driving guide sites giving you in-depth driving-related resources while keeping an eye on future incoming technology like self-driving cars. Fancy calling for a ride-sharing car driven by a robot? You can actually do so in places like in Massachusetts, Texas, and Singapore.
At the forefront of self-driving technology are companies like Alphabet (Google) through self-driving car project Waymo, auto manufacturer General Motors, NVIDIA self-driving cars technology, Magna which supplies auto parts including sensors, and Aptiv which develops advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS).
Betting on Self-Driving Cars
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What has been described here primarily represents only the glimmer of real possibilities. The full scope of self-driving cars have yet to been realized. But the future of how we travel, how logistics and delivery is handled, and even how our world looks will surely change.