There have been so many stories and reports over the past few years as to what exactly a world with self-driving cars would look like. What would the impact be on repair shops? Would DIYers still be able to work on their own cars? What would it mean for manufacturing companies? How would it make our roads safer (or potentially more dangerous)?
On September 30, 2017, the US Senate announced that it had reached an agreement to lift some regulations on manufacturers that made it more difficult to get autonomous cars on the road. The American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV START) Act will give self-driving car manufacturers more leeway to test and gather data for the advancement of autonomous vehicle technology. US Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.) told the Detroit Free Press that "The most important part of this legislation is it allows for innovation. This is cutting-edge technology that is advancing extremely fast. It's going to happen a lot sooner than people realize. This is not decades – it's a matter of a few years."
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF AUTONOMOUS POWER STEERING LOOK LIKE?
So what does a fully autonomous car and its steering look like exactly? A self-driving, self-steering car is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input. The control systems are capable ofmaking intelligent decisions by both maintaining an internal map of the world and using it to find an optimal path to the destination while avoiding obstacles. When the car determines the best path to take, the decision is then dissected into commands which are then fed into the vehicle's actuators. The actuators control the car's steering, braking and throttle. This process is repeated multiple times every second on the on-board processors until the car reaches the destination.
While autonomous power steering may make drivers and shops nervous, in reality, self-driving features have been included in new cars for quite a few years now:
- Collision Avoidance. Radar-, laser- or camera-based systems that warn of possible or impending collisions. Collision avoidance systems can automatically apply the brakes in certain cases.
- Enhanced Cruise Control. With enhanced cruise control. a predefined distance can be maintained from the vehicle in front of you. If the car in front of you slows, your car will also slow down.
- Drifting Warning. If a car begins to drift from its lane, certain systems will alert the driver and then apply a small amount of counter-steering force.
- Blind-Spot Detectors. When a vehicle is in the driver's blind spot, cameras or radar can detect it and then alert the driver with warning lights or sounds.
- Self Parking. With the self-parking feature, the car is not entirely self-driving, but the driver usually has to brake and follow commands. The car maneuvers itself into a parking spot using both sonar and cameras.
Self-driving cars, according to the Detroit Free Press, are being widely touted as the wave of the future, transforming driving habits and commuting, reducing congestion and cutting the some 35,000 auto-related deaths each year. But the possible transition, if and when it occurs, will be gradual. Autonomous power steering requires a lot of technology, and a lot of that technology is currently in different phases of testing, deployment and development by various automakers, tech companies and mobile-sharing companies. The progression of shifting privately owned cars to fully autonomous cars will begin with luxury cars and eventually trickle down.