Are Autonomous Vehicles the Future?

Autonomous Vehicles are those that can run on roads as well as off-road terrains without receiving any inputs from the driver. These cars have sensors that can feed them data about their surroundings and help them navigate their way to the set destination without hitting any bumps along the way.


A brief history of autonomous vehicles

Man first started getting serious about driverless cars over a century ago or in the 1920s, to be exact. By the 1950s, mankind had the trials needed to test driverless cars and in 1977, the first-ever semi-automatic car was developed at the Tsubuka Mechanical Engineering Laboratory, Japan. By the 80s, these cars could drive themselves on long-distance drives and even go off-road and avoid obstacles.


In 1999, the US donated $650 million for research purposes on the National Highway Automated System and soon, all the rest of the countries started funding such projects. Similarly, in 2016, an innovation strategy development for Automated driving was funded by the European Commission. These events were followed by Waymo LLC testing Autonomous Vehicles in America without the driver but with a passenger. 


To be able to test the vehicles without a driver indicated that the hard work of the developers was paying off and they started to trust autonomous vehicles more.


Advantages of Autonomous Vehicles

At present, although there are no fully developed and ready-to-drive autonomous vehicles on sale, AVs are what everybody is talking about. The circumstances may change soon and AVs may take over the market at any time.


AVs come with many advantages, the first being the different levels of operation that AVs can operate on. According to the needs of every customer, these cars are at level 1 of autonomy which means that they will exert occasional breaks or speed or can fully operate on their own which is designated as level 5 AVs.


With a level 1 AV, you can sit back and enjoy the ride with occasional inputs. This level of cars can be useful in congested areas because AVs have sensors that can easily assess the distance between the surrounding cars and how they are driving in real time.


Studies also suggest that Autonomous vehicles consume 20% less fuel than traditional vehicles and they can help in achieving Net Zero status faster.


Shortcomings of Autonomous Vehicles

While they come with a lot of advantages, AVs also have a few shortcomings that may prove to be critical and hinder the further process of development. To be really Autonomous, these vehicles need to be fully computerized and equipped with other technologies such as AI. Such advanced technologies require a lot of power which may not be possible with battery-powered drivetrains yet.


Another area where AVs lack is the absence of a human driver. Entirely driverless cars are not yet being entertained by society because of the technical faults, combustion, and lack of human instinct. Unleashing level 5 cars on the roads might result in road accidents or worse. 


Use of AVs in Agriculture

The worldwide food crisis has made scientists and engineers look for ways to enhance the production and quality of crops and agricultural products. According to many scientists, 2050 is the year when the world will run out of food. 


To meet the current demand for food, the output of the agricultural sector needs to be increased tenfold and advanced technologies like AI and Autonomy can surely help. Autonomous Tractors utilizing AI can be used to manufacture vehicles that can harvest entire fields on their own.


So, is the future autonomous?

The way that the automotive industry has progressed in the last century is quite remarkable. With the amount of work and technology that is being used to make automotive autonomy possible, one can safely assume that in a decade or so, we will at least see autonomous vehicles running on roads if not more.

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