Autonomous cars were supposed to be the next big thing in automobile technology. Everyone from Tesla and Google to General Motors was involved and news reports at frequent intervals indicated that driverless cars would be hitting the roads this year.
Just a couple of weeks away from 2020, it’s apparent that driverless cars are a long way from reality. The technology is still under development and there are several road bumps on the way ahead.
Autonomous vehicles were supposed to reduce the high accident rate. However, these driverless cars haven’t been able to avoid accidents, which would indicate that the technology is not ready – yet. Good enough for parking or driving in a parking lot but not safe enough to be taken out on the roads.
Driverless cars are going through limited testing in a few cities, especially on university campuses.
Currently, the technology allows the vehicle to be used safely in closed environments such as college campuses where low speed driving is acceptable and there’s very little interaction with other vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists.
Autonomous technology is now focussed on improving the perception levels of the software so that data from the motion sensors in a vehicle can be processed quickly. While current reliability levels are pegged at 80-85 percent, there is a 15 percent chance that a driverless car will meet with an accident, presenting a serious risk to other road users.
Despite these obstacles, development work continues for driverless cars, and there is optimism that complete fleets of autonomous vehicles will be deployed on roads in the next few years.