We all know that driverless cars are coming, and what was once thought as very “far-out” is today considered something that is almost mainstream. This brings the conversation around driverless cars not to the question of if they will hit the market, rather how will they hit the market.
The biggest impact that driverless cars will have on our lives, is making driving safer. We won’t have to worry about blind spots, and the car will be able to navigate from lane to lane (with lane detection technology) without much of an issue. Other than being able to drive themselves, and keep us safe, what other features of driverless cars should we expect to see on the first models?
Here are 3 features that will make or break the future of driverless cars, because these are the base upon which all the rest will be built on.
Vehicle to Vehicle Communication
V2V communication is an automobile technology designed to allow automobiles to “talk” to each other, and in all likelihood will be a mandatory feature that all driverless cars will feature.
By helping drivers avoid crashes, this technology will play a key role in improving the way people get where they need to go while ensuring that the U.S. remains the leader in the global automotive industry. – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
By allowing vehicles in transit to send position and speed data to one another over an ad hoc mesh network V2V communication will be able to prevent accidents, in large due to the fact that it will have 360-degree awareness. The various vehicle models will differ on how V2V is implemented; however in most circumstances the car’s driver may simply receive a warning if the likelihood of an accident has increased due to the conditions or its distance from another car. Then, obviously (the entire point of driverless cars) the car itself would take preemptive actions such as braking, stopping, or switching lanes.
- Ad hoc mesh network: decentralized type of wireless network. The network is ad hoc because it does not rely on a pre-existing infrastructure, such as routers in wired networks or access points in managed (infrastructure) wireless networks.
Lidar (light detection and ranging)
This is how your car will map the surrounding areas – lasers. This system, which is added on the top of the car, measures how lasers bounce off reflective surfaces to capture information about millions of small points surrounding the vehicle every second – this is the same technology that is used to create the online maps used by Google and Nokia.
This 64-beam laser (at least in Google’s cars) allows the vehicle to generate a detailed 3D map of its environment. The car then takes these generated maps and combines them with high-resolution maps of the world, producing different types of data models that allow it to drive itself.
Augmented Reality Dashboards
Soon your windshield won’t be used to see what’s in front of you, rather to get data regarding your surroundings. For one, cars will be able to identify external objects in front of the driver and display information about them on the windshield – the driverless car will then act on its own. The truth is that your windshield, and probably other parts of the vehicle, will begin acting as augmented reality dashboards.
In short, the augmented reality dashboard will display information on top of what a driver is seeing in real life so that if you are too close to a car, another lane, low air pressure in a tire, or have an oncoming cat in the road, your futuristic dashboard will clearly identify these obstacles/issues and display it clearly.
Notice the different screens inside this futuristic Mercedes.
We can expect to see new features roll out as we get closer to the release of these cars to the public market, and of course there are tens of others of other very “basic” features that will accompany some of the more over the top features, like the aforementioned ones. Would we like to see more? Yes, and the question isn’t if we will see more and bigger features, rather it’s just a question of when.