Driverless Cars: The Wave of the Future?
Autonomous cars are still somewhat of a fairytale for most people, but be ready to embrace them, because they are here!
Drivers are becoming co-pilots, and companies like Tesla are leading the charge. Tesla, which was founded by SpaceX’s Elon Musk, is a manufacturer of electric and autonomous cars. With interest levels surging, the company’s production can’t keep up with demand.
I had heard that Tesla was designing the first autonomous car, but it wasn’t until I found myself driving next to one that it became a reality for me. I was being passed on a four-lane interstate by a Tesla vehicle literally driving itself – with a passenger sitting behind the wheel, of course. He was slouched over, looking down at his phone and paying absolutely no attention to the road.
Please note: even in driverless cars, your full attention should be fixed on the road.
So what can these driverless cars do? There are three primary functions the driver can use to make the car ‘driverless’: autosteer, adaptive cruise control, and autopilot. Cameras and sensors work together to make it possible. Let’s break them down, listing both the perks and downfalls.
Autosteer: The autosteer function, which can be enabled once the vehicle is travelling 18 MPH, utilizes cameras and other sensors to keep the vehicle within its respective lane. The cameras track your position on the road using the traffic markings, so it’s only accessible when on roads in proper condition. Autosteer doesn’t allow you to use it when the road markings are poor or worn away.
Adaptive Cruise Control: Adaptive cruise control allows you to set your speed the same way as standard cruise control, and it’ll also adjust your speed for slower vehicles around you. Within this function, you select precisely how many car-lengths you’d like to stay back from the vehicle ahead of you. When you switch lanes, the adaptive cruise control will adjust your speed accordingly.
Autopilot: The autopilot function is a combination of autosteer and adaptive cruise control. This combination gives us the driverless car tag.
Elon Musk has forever changed the landscape of the auto industry – and he believes this is just the beginning. He predicts that within 10 years, more than 50 percent of cars will be electric, and within 20 years, cars will no longer have a steering wheel.