Introduction autonomous vehicles in modern society is as controversial

Introduction

Over the last century
there have been dozens of iterations and improvements made to the motorized
vehicle that Karl Benz
created at the end of the 19th century (1885/1886). The motorized
vehicle or more commonly referred to as a car, has changed almost entirely
since the original vehicle was implemented into society. Most notably the improvements to
brakes, steering and the implementation of safety features such as seat belts
changed the car drastically along with increased speeds and efficiency.
In more recent years, vehicles have become more ‘homely’ with features such as air conditioning and onboard
heating and with a variety of digital advancements such as onboard GPS and
Wi-Fi hotspots.

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One of the more notable
and controversial advancements of the last few years has been the development and
potential implementation of autonomous vehicles, or more commonly known as
self-vehicles.

In this report I will
be talking about the advancements that have been made and discussing why the
implementation of autonomous vehicles in modern society is as controversial as
it is. Throughout the report I will be focusing on two companies that have been
developing autonomous technology. These companies have been a prevalent part in
autonomous technology and will continue to advance the current systems they have
been developing. These companies are Tesla and Google/Waymo.

I will be using
articles I have found to support claims on the topic and give my own conclusion
on how I personally feel about the implementation of these vehicles in day to
day life.

 

What are Autonomous Vehicles and how do they work?

The idea behind
autonomous vehicles is not all that different from a normal car journey that
you yourself would drive yourself. The key difference is that you can travel
from point A to point B without driving the vehicle, rather the vehicle is in
control and will make all the necessary adjustments that need to be made in the
journey. This includes all
the primary functions such as speed, brakes, that will come together to create a
more precise and optimal journey for yourself and passengers alike.

Tesla

In
late 2014, Tesla owner Elon Musk unveiled the Model S; a vehicle with Tesla’s
new autopilot technology and GPS based hardware too create a self-driving
experience that according to Tesla is “At a safety level far greater than that of a human driver”.

As
mentioned above, Tesla use hardware based on GPS systems to allow for their
vehicles to be self-driving. According to Tesla, this process is achieved by eight surround cameras that
provide 360 degrees of visibility around the car providing up to 250 metres of
range. These cameras will read in data such as the vehicles current
speed, location, and destination as well as surrounding vehicles information as
well to make an informed decision on what the best course of action will be in
said situation. All the data that these cameras acquire is sent to an onboard
computer that will process all the information given and output a suitable
response. These two
systems work together to provide a view on the situation that a lone driver
would not be able to compute by themselves due to the massive amount of data
that goes into the process of analysing every direction simultaneously on
wavelengths far beyond human senses. 

Google/Waymo

Googles autonomous vehicle project started in
2009 when Google attempted a 100-hour mile autonomous journey in a Toyota Prius. This is arguably the start of the
self-driven car project after the task that google set out was accomplished and
has been built up upon ever since. One of the most notable progressions in autonomous vehicles over the
last few years of development came from Google in 2015 when Steve Mahan; a
blind man, was driven in the ‘Pod-Car’ for 10 minutes. This vehicle had no
steering wheel or pedals inside marking a pivotal moment in the history of
autonomous vehicles.

In 2016, the department working on Googles
Autonomous vehicle project was renamed Waymo as it launched as a standalone
company under Googles parent company, Umbrella of Alphabet. Waymo has developed
a very similar system to Tesla that uses multiple sensors and software that are
designed to detect pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles up too two football
fields away.

Are there ethical/legal implications concerning Autonomous
vehicles?

Although these companies
have achieved great things through years of development, autonomous vehicles are
criticized and bought into discussion regarding the ethical and legality over their
existence.

On May 2016, Joshua Brown
was unfortunately killed driving in his Tesla Model S

 

 

 

Conclusion

From a technological stand point, the progress and development of autonomous
vehicles is an impressive feat that will continue to progress and grow into modern
societies. 

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