Functioning of Driverless Cars

The origin of the Driverless Cars can be traced to 1925 when the inventor Francis Houdina demonstrated a radio-controlled car, which he drove through the streets of Manhattan without anyone at the steering wheel.

Since then the technology has evolved heaps and bounds. At present Two broad concepts are being tested:

  • The first approach uses radars, sonars, and cameras to perceive vehicles and other objects. According to a McKinsey report, it requires less processing power, but does not assess the environment on a deeply granular level.
  • Whereas the second approach uses Lidar, a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure variable distances and range together with the traditional sensor suite of radar and camera systems. This requires more data-processing and computational power, but is more robust, especially in tight, traffic-heavy environments.

Even though the radar and camera technology is easy to optimise and robust enough to incorporate into mass-market cars, the challenge lies in leveraging artificial intelligence to convert 2D visuals into 3D images that the vehicle can then successfully negotiate. Lidar, on the other hand, is still expensive.