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Practical potholes in the path of driver-less cars

When it comes to the future, there are countless theories on how the world will look like, and while each is more eccentric than the other, they all have one element in common – how personal transportation will look like. We’re not talking about the distant future, where everyone will be zooming around using their personal jetpacks or teleport from one point to another, but rather the near-future, the one driven by the technology that’s slowly coming together now.

It is generally agreed upon that self-driving cars will become the norm, and if we are to look around a bit, we will notice that we’re not very far away from the moment self-driving cars will hit the streets. However, while there is no arguing that the technology that’s driving autonomous cars has advanced in leaps and bounds recently, there are still some practical potholes in the path of driverless cars. Here’s why we don’t see driverless cars roaming around just yet.

They don’t see well

Driverless cars make use of a ton of sensors which are more capable than their human equivalent, but there’s a catch. While a human driver has a fairly narrow field of view, and a focus zone that’s about the size of a coin, we make up for that with our brain, which is significantly more powerful than any computer in some aspects.

A driverless car, on the other hand, comes with a wide array of cameras and sensors that give it a constant 360-degree view of its surroundings, but does not have the capability to process all that data efficiently enough just yet. As a result, driverless cars rely on a set of instructions on how to proceed in various scenarios, using pre-programmed information and some of the data fed by its sensors. However, that is simply not enough to get around safely at all times, and there’s no better example than a blunt road work – while a human driver will have no problems noticing the temporary road signs and adapt to the new conditions, a driverless car whose GPS will tell it that the road ahead is clear will have a difficult time figuring out what’s happening, and finding its way around.

They don’t think ahead

 “Prevention” is one of the most commonly heard terms when it comes to driving, and is also one of the things driverless cars don’t do very well with yet. As mentioned before, driverless cars don’t actually think for themselves, but rather rely on (albeit complex) pre-programmed information and scenarios, so while it will be able to handle a lot of common mishaps, some will be simply beyond the point where the car knows what to do to anticipate or avoid an incident. Imagine this simple scenario: you’re driving along the country side, on a deserted road, and you notice a family picnic ahead, with some children playing around with a ball. Your instinct will immediately tell you to slow down, as there is always the possibility that the ball or a kid might jump in front of your car, so you immediately adapt to the situation. Put in the same position, a driverless car will detect the kids and ball as well thanks to its sensors, but it will not be able to anticipate what might happen, and may be caught off-guard.

They are not for everyone

Driverless cars may be the highly anticipated future for some, but not everyone will want or afford to embrace said future. Just look around at how many people still dream about muscle cars, for example, and you’ll understand that regular cars are not going away completely anytime soon. People are fascinated by history, restoration and customizability – three things that currently lack in the driverless car segment.

Then there’s the financial aspect to take into account: the closest thing to a driverless car available today is the Tesla, which sells for upwards of $100,000, which is not exactly cheap. There are numerous non-driverless options to fit in that budget, from sport cars (a 2017 BMW M4 starts at roughly $65,000), to luxury sedans (a 2017 Mercedes E-Class starts at about $53,000), to luxury SUVs (a 2017 Porsche Cayenne starts at about $80,000). Also, as highlighted before, there’s also the option to customize your car, which is simply non-existent for driverless cars at this time. For example, you can opt for a Porsche Cayenne, set it up with a Porsche Cayenne body kit and some engine tuning and you end up with a luxury sportive SUV that reflects your personality and is a pure pleasure to drive, all in the budget of a blunt driverless car. 

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About the Author

John Smith is interested in writing about cars and technology related issues. He has a deep knowledge at this field. Also he writes for a site offering high quality Porsche parts, accessories and spares.

Practical potholes in the path of driver-less cars Reviewed by Brandon on 5:36 PM Rating: 5

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