Self-driving cars seem to be the latest technological innovation in automobiles. These are the type of cars where the computer controls the driving instead of the human driver. Some other names for self-driving cars are driverless cars or autonomous cars. Self-driving cars are built with a series of sensors, computer chips, and artificial intelligence software programs which give it the ability to navigate the road, detect other obstacles around it, and ultimately drive safely on the road. The human doesn’t need to do anything except sit back and relax.
Velodyne 64-beam Laser
Google is certainly the world’s leader in self-driving car technology. They were the first company to get their driverless vehicles onto public streets. Their original prototype for this was with a Toyota Prius and it proved to work out quite well. The center of this technology revolves around a device called the Velodyne 64-beam laser. This device is basically a laser-range finder which gets mounted onto the vehicle’s roof. It scans its surrounding environment and automatically produces detailed maps of it in 3D.
Meanwhile, there are 64 invisible laser beams which are cast throughout the environment. The purpose of these laser beams is to detect any people, objects, or other obstacles that may be around. After the 3D environmental maps are generated, the computer will measure the laser beams in conjunction with the details of the map. Based on this combination, various data models are produced which allow the vehicle to drive safely on the streets.
The self-driving car will be able to detect other vehicles or people that maybe in front of it. Once they are detected, the car will automatically apply its brakes. Don’t worry, these objects are detected well in advance so that the braking experience can be calm and gradual. But if someone runs out in front of the car, then the braking may be a little more aggressive.
Other components of the Google self-driving car are two front radars, two rear radars, camera, GPS, and wheel encoder. The radar technology helps in faster moving traffic by letting the computer see obstacles at much farther distances. The camera is attached next to the rear-view mirror and it tells the computer what the traffic lights are doing. The GPS should be self-explanatory as it measures the geographical position of the vehicle. The wheel encoder tracks the movements of the vehicle and the location it is in.