How Long Will It Take For Driverless Cars To Actually Work Publically?
The primary reason this technology works as it does today is because of the spinning LIDAR turret on the roof of the car. This device effectively paints a 3D image of the world around the car with an infrared laser beam at high speed. The vehicle takes that information, and combines it with the data from the cameras around the vehicle, and GPS technology to drive itself safely on the road. It’s capable of navigating through construction zones, prepare for potentially dangerous situations and intersections quickly, and make intelligent driving decisions in reference to other unknown variables on the road and on the side of the road, such as bicyclists changing lanes, traffic cones, sidewalks, and of course, pedestrians. Computers also have an amazing advantage over human beings. They don’t get distracted by the simplest of things, don’t get impaired when tired or inebriated, and are capable of making decisions and reacting far more quickly than human drivers.
The car can also fine-tune it’s position by comparing its current LIDAR data to old 3D maps of the street that it’s on (data that’s already pre-loaded from Google maps). This helps it insure that it doesn’t drift out of it’s lane, and allows it to navigate in situations where GPS isn’t an option, such as parking garages and tunnels. It’s expansive knowledge of the data collected by Google over the years for maps is also present to allow the vehicle to know current speed limits and where to look for traffic signals. It’s arguable the most informed and experienced driver you can possibly have, not to mention the most alert.