5 New Technological Breakthroughs In Self-driving Vehicles

Published On By Akshay Luke Peters for Lexus IS at CarBay

Autonomous or self-driving vehicles have been the rage ever since the concept of such a car was presented in various works of science fiction. Although the first examples of an essentially ‘driverless car’ appeared as early as 1925, but a true breakthrough was made by Google’s self-driving car that utilized a Lexus RX450h and was tested in a facility in Las Vegas. The arrival of autonomous vehicles will not only reduce the possibility of accidents due to human error, but will also bring several changes in the very way we look at vehicles. If you’re as excited to see these futuristic machines in action as we are, then check out these latest updates that will be featured on autonomous cars.

Google turn lane

1. Turn Signal Sensor

This is one of the latest updates by Google, as they have filed a new patent for this particular technology. They recently expanded their base of operations for autonomous vehicle technology and have started evaluating new possibilities on making a market ready self-driving vehicle. This new technology allows the vehicle’s sensors to register turn signals from other cars and help the vehicle avoid any sort of collision. The new tech was also tested out with their prototype Google AV using a front facing camera that used light detection to differentiate between turn indicator signal and brake lights.

LiDAR tech

2. Nightvision

Another latest breakthrough that is being currently tested by Ford motors is the use of light detection and 3D mapping to eliminate the need for headlights in autonomous vehicles. Known better as the LiDAR (light-detection and ranging), the tech allows the vehicle to safely maneuver and detect obstacles in low-light conditions. This is quite a departure from the conventional camera based autonomous vehicles, which might not perform that well in places with poor luminosity. With their announcement of adding 30 autonomous cars to their fleet, Ford has certainly left the automotive world in surprise.

Goodyear Eagle

3. Spherical Tires

At the Geneva Motor Show held earlier this year, the Goodyear tyre and rubber co. unveiled their newest take on automobile tires that would revolutionize the very way vehicles are driven. Known as the Eagle-360, the completely spherical tyre has been especially designed for use in autonomous vehicles. The new wheels will be suspended using a magnetic field and will enhance the maneuverability and driving comfort. These new treads will also allow the vehicles to easily parallel park and will certainly help in decreasing traffic congestion in crowded Asian cities.

E-Tron

4. All-Electric Drivetrain

Now there is no way we’d ever be able to call these driverless cars as truly futuristic, if they have the same old powertrain as today’s vehicles. The recently unveiled E-Tron Quattro by Audi features an all-electric drivetrain that can run more than 300 miles when fully charged. Adding to the astonishing fuel economy is the massive 429 hp output that provides the vehicle a top speed of almost 211 kilometers per hour. These figures have totally shattered the general dogma of electric engines not being very fast and will certainly help revolutionize vehicles of the future.

Bus Detection

5. Bus Detection

There was a recent news about Google’s autonomous vehicle colliding with a bus during its test run. Although there was no serious injury involved with the accident, it certainly raised a lot of questions for Google who’ve had a pretty clean run so far with their driverless car. Learning a lesson, they have developed a system that will be able to detect any type of large vehicles such as buses, trucks and trailers to avoid any collision. The abovementioned turn signal sensor is one of the core components for this new technology, that will be soon featured on their test vehicle.

If you are a movie buff, then you might remember the 1990 Hollywood flick Total Recall. In the movie, the story’s protagonist lands on a colonized planet Mars, where he hires a cab that is driven by a talking humanoid robot. Although we’re still far from inhibiting Mars or any planet in our solar system other than dear old earth, the idea of a robot driven car is certainly turning into reality.

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