Tag Archives: transportation

Driverless Car, the Future of Transportation?

When talking about driverless cars, most people immediately think about Google’s driverless cars. However, Google isn’t the only company that is currently developing driverless cars; many other companies, like Volvo, Audi, BMW, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, and possibly Apple have been developing their own autonomous cars. Base on the actions of those big companies, driverless cars seems to be the next milestone of transportation.

Google’s driverless car: Credit to: Humans Resources Establishment on Flickr Common


Driverless autonomous cars are capable of safely transporting passengers to designated locations with very minimal driver control. Google’s driverless car, for example, is equipped with video cameras, radar sensors, and a laser range finder to detect the surroundings of the vehicle, according to Google. A more detailed description of Google’s driverless car can be found in the following video:

Safety is always the top concern about driverless cars. How reliable is the autonomous system? For the past few years, Google’s driverless cars have logged over 700,000 accident-free miles. However, there was one accident involving Google’s driverless car in 2011. This article stats that the accident happened when the car was manually driven. As for the concern for safety, Google seems to do a great job at preventing accidents caused by its driverless cars.

Sensors on Driverless Car. Credit to: Pallavi Srinivasareddy on Flickr Commons

Traffic congestion is another big concern, especially when driver licence is not required for driverless cars in UK. The number of cars on the road will significantly increase. To solve the problem of traffic congestion, autonomous cars can effectively utilize the road to reduce traffic congestion. The autonomous car can communicate with each other, or even to the traffic lights,  to result in a smoother traffic flow. However, potential hacking can occur, and researchers are currently working towards a more secure autonomous system.

Comfort should be another concern of the general public regarding driverless cars. While traveling in driverless cars can provide extra rest time, the passengers will feel uncomfortable if the transportation involves frequent sudden stops. Researchers have simulated different traffic scenarios to evaluate the smoothness of the rides. The researchers found that in order to provide comfort in the ride, a cost of traffic congestion cannot be avoided.

Driverless cars may provide a more convenient and a safer way of transportation. However, there are still many obstacles for driverless cars to overcome. After all, we live in a stochastic world where there are accidents even a perfect computer system can’t avoid.

-Daniel Hsiao