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The technology making autonomous vehicles a reality

5 min to readTechnology
The greatest challenge for autonomous vehicles is solving the complex problems associated with driving in busy cities or on long-haul routes under all conditions.
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The left lane, in most cases, is for passing only. This rule of the road seems pretty straightforward, but for some reason, we cannot seem to get everyone to grasp this concept. While solving this age-old problem is one of the many potential benefits of autonomous driving, safety, efficiency, and the drive to innovate are the real reasons for so many technological advances in this field.

The greatest challenge for autonomous vehicles is solving the complex problems associated with driving in busy cities or on long-haul routes under all conditions. However, these challenges are becoming more manageable, thanks to technology. Safety is always a paramount concern, and with advanced vision systems in place, the vehicles can see farther and respond quickly to potential hazards. Additionally, 360-degree views give the vehicles a better sense of the surroundings at all times. Radar, LIDAR, artificial intelligence, and vision systems are just a few of the things that help driverless vehicles navigate safely.


The technology that is making autonomous vehicles possible is nothing short of amazing. One of the challenges facing those working on autonomous vehicles is dealing with the vast amount of data generated by all the sensors on the car or truck. This data needs to be processed to create a comprehensive view of the world around the vehicle. Companies are using Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) to allow automobiles to "see" and "respond" similar to a human brain. This advancement allows a vehicle to detect an object, determine the best course of action, and then take action accordingly.

When it comes to decisions that humanity cannot agree on, the phrase "the best course of action" leads to an intriguing problem for autonomous driving. While the ethics of autonomous driving is up for debate, the technology for making autonomous driving a reality continues to advance.

The company TuSimple recently completed the first driverless road test from Tucson to Phoenix with one of their semi-trucks. The visual of what a TuSimple truck sees paints a powerful picture of what is required to take in all the various surroundings, objects, and hazards and make the correct decisions.


Lidar is just one of the technologies helping to propel us towards autonomous driving. Lidar, or Light Detection and Ranging, is a sensor that helps create a 3D picture of the vehicle's surroundings. Lidar sensors are located around the vehicle and send millions of laser pulses. These pulses then bounce back off objects, and the time it takes for them to do so is measured. This information is then used to build a clear picture of the area around the vehicle, no matter what time of day it is. The Lidar system gives the driver a bird's eye view of what's around, making autonomous driving a reality. As we move into the future, this technology will only become more advanced and commonplace, making our roads safer for everyone.


Regarding autonomous vehicles, there's no such thing as being too careful. That's why many automakers are turning to RADAR technology, which uses millimeter waves to achieve millimeter precision in obstacle detection and centimeter accuracy in position and movement determination. This redundancy helps ensure that autonomous vehicles can safely navigate the world, regardless of conditions. And because RADAR systems are immune to most weather and lighting conditions, they can operate reliably in the rain, fog, dust, and dirt, and in all light conditions, from complete darkness to sun glare. This level of precision and reliability allows autonomous vehicles to navigate safely and efficiently through various environments.


Camera technology has come a long way recently, and Tesla is at the forefront of this innovative technology. While other companies rely on high-definition maps and LIDAR, Tesla has gone all in on video cameras. The vision system that Tesla has been building over the last few years has gotten so good that other sensors are becoming unnecessary. Tesla started shipping cars without radar, relying solely on camera vision. The cameras are so good that they provide all the information needed to navigate, even under challenging conditions like fog or heavy rain. This latest development is just another example of how Tesla is leading the way regarding camera technology.

Former director of Artificial Intelligence Andrej Karpathy says Tesla's vision system attempts to "design a neural network that processes the raw information in real-time into a three-dimensional representation of everything you need for driving."

Artificial Intelligence

One of the most important aspects of autonomous driving is artificial intelligence. This technology allows driverless vehicles to make split-second decisions, and it's something that Tesla has been working on for years. Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, has said that AI is more important to autonomous driving than sensors. And it's easy to see why. Without AI, driverless vehicles would be nothing more than glorified robots. But with AI, they can learn and adapt to their surroundings.

Deep learning is a type of machine learning that is well-suited for object detection problems. The computer first learns to identify basic shapes in a deep learning system. Then, it progressively learns to identify more complex objects. For example, a deep learning system might start by learning to detect edges. Once it has learned to detect edges, it can then learn to detect circles. Once it has learned to detect circles, it can then learn to detect faces. And so on. This type of learning is similar to the way humans learn. We start by learning to identify basic shapes and progressively learn to identify more complex objects.

What technology works best for autonomous driving?

The answer to this question depends on who you ask, but the most likely answer is still out there. Whether it's Tesla's camera-only strategy or a hybrid approach utilizing several different technologies, the fact is that autonomous vehicles are becoming a reality. And as these vehicles continue to evolve, so too will the technology that makes them possible.

Autonomous driving has the potential to make our roads safer and more efficient and keep traffic moving by not allowing slower drivers to clog up the left lane. We appear on the cusp of a transportation revolution, and it's thanks to the technology that is making autonomous vehicles possible.

Published at November 30, 2022
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November 30, 2022
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