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Essay: Are autonomous cars the future?

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  • Subject area(s): Information technology essays
  • Reading time: 4 minutes
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  • Published: June 25, 2021*
  • File format: Text
  • Words: 1,140 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 5 (approx)
  • Are autonomous cars the future?
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In recent years the idea of autonomous vehicles are becoming more and more common and have continued to progress and become more of a reality and with companies such as Tesla and Google currently producing or developing self driving/ autonomous cars.

With the effects of global warming, pollution and limitations of fossil fuels in recent years, vehicle companies from all over the world are creating and developing methods to reduce emissions and also find an alternative for fossil fuels used to create petrol and oil. So far we currently have various vehicles which are using petrol alternatives such as the Nissan Leaf and the Toyota Prius which are now incorporating the use of electric driven motors or using hybrid technology to combine the use of petrol and electric to get the best of both worlds.

In more recent years companies such as Tesla are taking this electric technology and are working continuously to develop and refine their vehicles to make them as safe as can be however with all the benefits and more of conventional petrol and diesel engines. One of the features in the latest Tesla models is ‘autonomous driving’ mode and ‘summon/ valet’ mode, both of these features allow the car to move and operate without any user input making the vehicle autonomous. In order for a vehicle to incorporate such features it has to be equipped with several sensors and cameras in order for the car to determine and judge distance and dangers before moving in order to make the vehicle as safe as possible.

In all of the Tesla models produced on or after 19th of October 2016 they will include all of the necessary hardware for autonomous driving including 8 surround cameras/ sensors which not only allow you to view a full 360 degree view of the vehicle’s surroundings therefore reducing blind spots, but it also allows the vehicle to determine distances and make decisions on behalf of the driver to ensure the safest experience whilst operating the vehicle. Tesla’s ‘summon’ feature allows the vehicle to use the many sensors and cameras to locate and make its way to the user with the touch of a button and even allows the user to get out of the car at the desired location and the vehicle will go and find a suitable parking space and wait there until you summon it again, and all can be done whilst the user is not in the car. However should we be prepared to give up our human input and put our lives in the hands of technology?.

During my research I found an article dated February the 1st 2015 which talked about 2.1 million cars which have been recalled due to a sensor fault, not only was it a extremely dangerous fault but it also went undetected for over 10 years causing a number of collisions, This fault was all down to a small electrical sensor in the airbag which caused the airbag to deploy at random and so there have been numerous incidents where the airbag has deployed when driving down the road and has caused the driver to crash. Vehicles affected by this fault are from brands such as Dodge, Jeep, Toyota, Acura, Pontiac and Honda all produced between 2002- 2004 as these all shared a same or similar airbag unit and sensor. As a result Honda were issued with fines of over $70 million in compensation to those motorists affected by the fault.

So cases like this show how one small electrical fault due to a sensor can cause potentially fatal collisions, So should we really be prepared to put our lives in the hands of one of these sensors?. The truth is that over the years especially after cases such as this, companies now thoroughly test each and every component before they are put into production to ensure their product will not fail and affect the user\’s safety even under the harshest of conditions. And so now safety is number one priority when it comes to producing vehicles and so now vehicles are ensured to be as safe as ever. Not only are the existing components tested under extreme conditions companies have also added to safety features to ensure extra safety, For example in Tesla’s vehicles it uses one of the 8 sensors to constantly monitor your blind spots and if needs be the vehicle will take over and stop you from entering a dangerous situation.

Many of these sensors on autonomous vehicles allow the vehicle to use a lane assist feature meaning that if the driver starts to sway or move into the next lane the vehicle will automatically adjust keeping you in your lane and keeping you out of potential dangers, however this lane assist feature relies heavily on the markings on the road which over the years have become more and more worn after millions of cars drive over them every day, and so could this mean that we also need to redesign our roads to accept autonomous vehicles?. In Tesla’s vehicles not only does it incorporate 8 cameras but it also includes 12 ultrasonic sensors around the vehicle which allow the vehicle to make judgements of distance even in the worst of conditions including fog, rain, snow and even through another car. And so using these ultrasonic sensors it allows the car to see not only its close surroundings but also what is happening on the roads up ahead and around you, this allows the vehicle to determine possible hazards and react to those in order to keep the user as safe as possible and even make decisions on behalf of the user.

Not only have Tesla added these safety and autonomous features but they are also continuously improving them and update your vehicle via ‘over the air updates’ which add and update any additional safety or navigation features without ever needing to take the vehicle to a garage or to the main dealers. This ensures that any faults found in the technology is resolved before they become hazardous to the user.

So to answer the question I think that if you look at these incidents 10 years ago and look at more recent vehicles you will see exactly how much safer and more reliable vehicles have become and so my prediction is that in the next 5-10 years or so vehicles will only continue to improve and become safer as well as incorporating more autonomous technology, so I think that Autonomous cars could be the way forward and will find a way to replace human input all together and will strive for a safer and more economical future.

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