If you think self driving cars were only in the Jetsons cartoons or some science fiction movie like Minority Report then you are surely going to be surprised. Autonomous or self-driving cars are the next wave in automotive engineering and concept that are on the drawing board and coming into testing.
Soon after will come all of the years of legal and safety challenges. However at the rate that technology is evolving you can plan on seeing these tests begin in the very near and not so distant future. In fact Google self-driving cars are planned to hit California roads this summer. Elon Musk says that Self-Driving Tesla Cars will be in the U.S. By Summer 2015.
Check out what The Oatmeal has to say about the “6 things I learned from riding in a Google Self-driving car.” This article really opened my eyes to all of the activity going on around the automotive industry and to all of the thought that has gone in to building a safe autonomous vehicle that can be tested on open roads in and around real traffic. The information you read will open your eyes up to the current events surrounding this amazing topic.
It looks like there is at least one recorded trip from the East Coast to the West Coast here in the United States of America by the company Delphi. This SUV style of self-driving vehicle recorded a whopping 3400 miles that was autonomously driven that way for 99% of the trip. Using a series of technological systems to produce the results.
Traveling through 15 different states, it was fully automated for 99% of the drive, with a human only taking over for a 50 mile (80 kilometer) stretch when they hit a particularly confusing patch of road works. Equipped with six long-range radars, four short-range radars, three vision-based cameras, six light detection and ranging devices, and a whole host of other technological tricks, the engineers found that the cameras occasionally malfunctioned when the sun was low in the sky. They also noted that they would need to further train their cameras to account for variations in lane markings—especially those that are faded, marked with raised bumps, or differently colored. Apart from that, it cruised along.
Let's take a look at some of the team players in this industry. For example LG and Mercedes Benz are teaming up to build a power system for self-driving cars to operate a next-generation of camera systems. This system can help the autonomous vehicle automatically slow down based on received information right up to operating a fully self driven machine.
There is also Google with their Google Driverless Car Project, GM-Carnegie Mellon Autonomous Collaborative Research Lab, Uber Advanced Technologies Center, University of Berlin, Germany, technical University of Braunschweig, Germany, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany, VisLab, Unoversity of Parma, Italy, Oxford Mobile Robotics Group, UK, and an entire slew of other competing research labs vying to get in on this technology and opportunity.
Here is a forecast on the State of the Industry of Autonomous Driving Cars. Also here is a great list of tech companies to watch Google, QNX, Delphi, Cisco systems, Continental, Covisint, Codha Wireless, Autotalks, Mobileye, Nvidia. Check out what FastCompany.com has to say about these tech firms.
Are you still unclear about what an Autonomous car is. Let's clear that up with this article here on Wikipedia.
You can bet if Forbes is advising on stock picks from the robotic car industry it's going to be around for a while and not just a fad that fades away over time. In fact here are 7 companies who are planing on launching driverless-cars by the year 2020.