Humans have dreamed of autonomous vehicles for centuries, with the first recorded design being Da Vinci’s self-propelled cart in 1500. Unfortunately, Da Vinci’s ideas were limited by the knowledge and technology of his time, so many of them never came to fruition.- an Autonomous Vehicle
The autonomous vehicle was a concept that long outlived Da Vinci and is still inspiring us to this day. What is an autonomous vehicle, though, and how close are we to having it?
Autonomous vehicles encompass a lot of different things, some of which already exist. We’ll talk more about them and other promising research into autonomous vehicles in this article.
Machinery and Autonomy
Autonomy describes the ability of a creature or object to control its own actions and decisions. Virtually every living being possesses autonomy, with the potential exception of plants.
For machines, the question of autonomy is much more complicated. Machines can be made autonomous, but will never achieve autonomy on their own.
Levels of Autonomy: 0-2
Technically speaking, there are five different levels of autonomy that a machine can have, possibly 6 if you count Level 0. Level 0 is a complete lack of autonomy, where the machine needs a human to control it.
Level one describes a machine that has one or two automated systems, but ultimately lacks control over most of its functions. A good example of this is a vehicle with an Infinitracker. You can have a look at Infinitrackers by clicking the link.
Level two describes a vehicle with partial autonomy that can control some of its basic functions but can’t operate on its own.
Levels of Autonomy: 3-5
The upper end of the spectrum is where things get more sophisticated because it represents the point where the machine becomes mostly autonomous. A level 3 autonomous vehicle is similar to a student driver in that it can mostly operate by itself, but isn’t very good at it.
Level 4 autonomous vehicles can handle themselves in normal or fairly mild conditions but will struggle to navigate in more hazardous circumstances. Level 5 vehicles, known as fully autonomous vehicles, can operate by themselves in all manner of situations.
The Autonomous Auto Industry
Autonomous vehicles have become an obsession with the auto industry in recent years, and several companies are leading the charge. One of the leaders is Waymo, which is a tiny step away from a fully autonomous vehicle.
Tesla has also made strides toward vehicular autonomy, although it might be some distance away from a fully autonomous vehicle.
Even when someone does create an autonomous vehicle, it might take time before the public fully embraces it. We’ll likely have self-driving cars someday very soon, but only time will tell when.
What is an Autonomous Vehicle? A Guide
One of the questions many people are asking these days is what is an autonomous vehicle. We’ve discussed autonomous vehicles and how close we are to having them in this article, but there’s always more to learn and more questions to ask.
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