Driverless Car Cad Design
If you think the idea of having driverless cars on the roads seems dangerous and utopian, think again, because the idea is quickly becoming reality. Actually, we have been using certain features of driverless cars for some time. Until recently, automobiles did not have cruise control, automatic and antilock braking, temperature sensors, GPS technology, or road sensing technology. That has all changed.
The autopilot system for air travel has been available for a long time, and the maturity and reliability of the technology continues to improve. If automatic piloting of complex aircraft in busy airspaces is acceptable, why should driverless cars not be acceptable?
A partial list of technologies required to create driverless cars are the following:
- Onboard computer technology,
- Onboard telemetry (radar and laser sensors),
- Anti-lock and automatic braking systems,
- Adaptive cruise control,
- GPS and sensor technology,
- Traction and stability control,
- Automatic engine control,
- Computerized navigational system.
This article focuses on CAD-related technologies which could be involved in building driverless cars. Specifically, the article discusses how the following technologies (which involve CAD design) will affect driverless cars:
- The role of sensors, GPS technology, and video cameras for driverless cars,
- Leading players in the development of driverless cars,
- Benefits which driverless cars will provide,
- Problems which driverless cars could create.
The role of sensors, GPS technology, and video cameras for driverless cars
The following technologies will help implement driverless car technology, while providing collision avoidance and traffic safety:
- Video cameras will detect traffic lights, read road signs, keep track of neighboring vehicles, and look out for pedestrians, pets and other obstacles.
- LIDAR (Laser Illuminating Detection and Ranging) sensors will detect edges of roads and identify lane markings by bouncing light pulses off the car’s surroundings.
- Ultrasonic non-contact sensors in the wheels will detect the position of curbs and neighboring vehicles during parking.
- GPS technology will use the location of the vehicle to determine routing, speed limits and to provide navigational guidance.
- Onboard telemetry will enable cars to communicate with one another, and with traffic monitoring and control systems.
- The onboard computer will analyze all monitored and measured data in order to make navigational decisions regarding steering, acceleration or deceleration, and braking.
Leading players in the development of driverless cars
It is not within the scope of this article to list the names and accomplishments of all leading players in driverless car technology. It will suffice to highlight two significant accomplishments.
Israel’s Mobileye® made news recently when its driverless vehicle supplied by Delphi Automotive traversed a 3,000-mile journey from San Francisco to Manhattan in 9 days. Before this accomplishment, the driverless vehicle had been successfully operated in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The driverless vehicle could detect cyclists, debris on the road, curbs, barriers, construction zones, traffic lights, and road signs.
Mobileye expects to offer 237 driverless car models by the end of 2016.
Deals to use the technology have already been made with BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, Peugeot, Volvo and Tesla. Truck manufacturers MAN SE, Scania, and IVECO have also made deals to use the technology.
In 2014, Google unveiled the technology named “Google Chauffeur” for piloting autonomous or driverless cars. Google’s technology neither uses a steering wheel nor a brake pedal.
Automotive companies which have signed on to use Google’s technology include Toyota Prius, Audi TT, and Lexus RX450h. Google’s robotic car uses a LIDAR system which generates a detailed local map of its environment. The generated map is combined with high-resolution maps of the world in order to produce data models that the computer uses to pilot the vehicle.
Google’s driverless vehicles have been tested in the San Francisco area, and they have logged about 700,000 miles (1.1 million km) of accident-free driving. Google plans to make their driverless cars publicly available by 2020.
Benefits which driverless cars will provide
In order to enjoy the benefits that driverless cars will provide, it is necessary for legislative bodies to pass or modify traffic laws. In the United States, the District of Columbia and four states have already passed laws that permit the operation of driverless cars. Many other state legislatures are discussing the passage of similar laws.
Predictably, the public will initially be skeptical about operating driverless cars, until the following benefits become evident.
- There will be significant reduction in vehicle collisions, injuries caused by automobile accidents, and loss of life. Consequently, the cost of insuring motor vehicles will be lower.
- There will be less need for individual driving licenses and driving skills.
- Senior citizens, teenagers, and handicapped people will have mobility that they do not now have.
- A businessman or woman could work or play (read the newspaper or a book, watch TV, eat or drink) instead of focusing on driving to work. The need for police officers to arrest motorists for DUI, which is a leading cause of traffic deaths, will be gone.
- Law enforcement will have more manpower to fight crime instead of enforcing traffic laws.
Problems which driverless cars could create
It should not come as a surprise that whenever new technology is introduced to benefit mankind, criminal minds will find ways to misuse the technology for personal profit, or to cause mischief. What problems could arise?
- Criminals will hack into onboard computer systems in order to steal automobiles.
- Terrorists will hack into traffic control systems and into car computer systems in order to create accidents, traffic jams, or chaos.
Law enforcement will need training to fight these new types of traffic crime. The use of the internet, GPS, and drone technology could become useful instruments for enforcing traffic safety.
Driving as we know it is about to change in a dramatic way. Although many technical problems remain to be solved, the use of driverless vehicles should accelerate rapidly by the year 2020.
Initially, driverless cars will be expensive. When the costs of these vehicles come down, almost everyone (including senior citizens, children, drunk drivers, and even blind people) will have the privilege of using driver less cars without endangering the lives of the public or themselves.