autonomous vehicle

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autonomous vehicle

[ȯ¦tän·ə·məs ′vē·ə·kəl]
A vehicle that is able to plan its path and to execute its plan without human intervention.

autonomous vehicle

A computer-controlled car that drives itself. Autonomous vehicles date back to the 1939 World's Fair in New York where the General Motor's exhibit predicted the development of driverless, radio-controlled electric cars. As TVs and modern appliances emerged in the U.S. in the 1950s, more images of driverless cars debuted. In the 1980s, experiments that detected the painted lines in the road were actually performed in the U.S. and Europe. In 2011, Nevada was the first state in the U.S. to legalize their use.

Accident avoidance is the major incentive because the car can respond faster than a human. In addition, people can arrive more relaxed after a long trip. Vehicles can travel closer together on the road, and computers can operate them more economically than people. The ultimate manifestation is the reduction of vehicles. For example, driverless taxis could replace a family's second car that sits idle most of the time. Of course, fewer cars overall has other implications (see computer ethics).

DARPA Grand Challenges
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency jump-started the driverless industry in the U.S. In 2004, DARPA offered monetary rewards for the winners of a 150-mile driverless vehicle race in the Mojave Desert in California. No vehicle completed the course, but 22 out of 23 finished the next race in 2005 with more curves and narrower roads. In 2007, six teams completed a 60-mile run through urban streets.

LIDAR and Maps
Driverless cars use lasers that scan the environment more than a million times per second (see LIDAR). Combined with digital GPS maps of the area, driverless cars detect white and yellow lines on the road as well as every stationary and moving object in their perimeter. Autonomous vehicles can drive themselves as long as a human driver can take control immediately when necessary.

Google Self-Driving Car Project
Although most automobile companies are in some stage of R&D for driverless cars, Google undertook its own project in 2009. Some 23 Google-equipped Lexus SUVs driven by Google employees mostly in California racked up nearly two million miles in both driverless and manual modes by 2016. There were 12 minor accidents caused by human drivers primarily rear ending the Google car; however, in February 2016, a Google car changing lanes was hit by an oncoming bus at very low speed with no injuries. If it seems odd that a search engine company is pioneering autonomous vehicles, its effectiveness and success lies greatly with the software algorithms. See Alphabet.

Public Taxi Trials Have Begun
In 2016, Uber and nuTonomy began driverless taxi trials in Pittsburgh and Singapore respectively. Engineers are present in the vehicles during these pilot programs to take over the wheel if necessary, but drivers do not talk to passengers in order to give them the full driverless experience. Also in September 2016, California sanctioned the trials of completely driverless cars (no steering wheel, brakes, etc.) in a Contra Costa County private business park. See Uber.

The Transition to Driverless Cars
Along with the huge technology challenge, state laws are being changed to allow them on the road. Whether autonomous vehicles become mainstream in a few years or decades away remains to be seen. However, in the meantime, accident prevention systems in regular cars are becoming much more advanced as a result of all the research (see adaptive cruise control). See semiautonomous vehicle, e-highway and automotive systems.

The Driverless Audi
Cruise Automation started taking pre-orders in 2014 for its RP-1 kit for late model Audis. The rooftop sensor pod contains the cameras and radar for highway cruising. (Images courtesy of Cruise Automation Inc.,

The Driverless Audi
Cruise Automation started taking pre-orders in 2014 for its RP-1 kit for late model Audis. The rooftop sensor pod contains the cameras and radar for highway cruising. (Images courtesy of Cruise Automation Inc.,

Tesla Model S Driverless - 2015
Using GPS and sensors, Tesla's Autopilot keeps a steady pace on the highway. The first driverless option in a production vehicle, Autopilot alerts the driver when cars are too close to the side, and it automatically changes lanes and parallel parks. See semiautonomous vehicle. (Image courtesy of Tesla Motors,

Auto-Propelled Wagon - 1478
Equally as revolutionary, Leonardo da Vinci attempted to create an auto-propelled vehicle with coiled springs, but he never made it work. This replica is in IBM's conference center in Palisades, New York.
References in periodicals archive ?
The report focuses on global major leading industry players of Autonomous Vehicle market providing information such as company profiles, product picture and specification, capacity, production, price, cost, revenue and contact information.
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The spotlight video interview with CAVCOE offers viewers a unique perspective on how far we've come with autonomous vehicle technology from the futuristic visions of 1939 New York World's Fair to today.
A survey by IEEE, a technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for humanity, of more than 200 experts in the field of autonomous vehicles found that of six possible roadblocks to the mass adoption of driverless, these three were ranked as the biggest obstacles: legal liability, policymakers and consumer acceptance.
We are pleased to welcome Ford as the first automaker to use Mcity to test autonomous vehicles, said Peter Sweatman, director, Mobility Transformation Center.
Speaking about the report, Autonomous Vehicles - Divergent Futures, just-auto editor Dave Leggett said:
Creating a Confident Occupant Experience -- Stanford research data suggest that increased Situation Awareness helps drivers of autonomous vehicles feel confidence and trust in the system.
The Center for Autonomous Vehicle Applied Technology and Information (CAVATI[TM]) is a non-profit, Utah-based business coalition with a mission to advance unmanned vehicle technology by leveraging industry assets with university resources in the state of Utah.
So is it possible that the day of the autonomous vehicle is not that far ahead?
Testing of the consortium s autonomous vehicle, the BAE Systems Wildcat on private and public roads is due to begin in early 2016.
He has not revealed if Ford will be among the first to produce an autonomous vehicle.

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