EXPLAINED- The Technology Behind Self-Driving Cars

Automated cars access the latest traffic, weather, maps, adjacent vehicles and ease the traffic congestion, lowers pollution and prevent accidents. 

EXPLAINED- The Technology Behind Self-Driving Cars

EXPLAINED- The Technology Behind Self-Driving Cars

Most of us enjoy driving with a sense of freedom and status. But since human life is dynamic, people are very interested and curious about self-driving cars.  Connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) are a great invention in the modern world. After the realization of new mobility options with little or no human input, companies are now continuously surprising us with their new technologies now and then. 

People who are distracted easily by cell phones, music systems, traffic could opt for a driverless car. Last minute presentation could be prepared on the way to office while the driving software of the vehicle will act as the brain for your car from a different aspect. People with disabilities, older people or people without driving license will be able to enjoy benefits like other people. 

Automated cars access the latest traffic, weather, maps, adjacent vehicles and ease the traffic congestion, lowers pollution and prevent accidents. 

The technology behind self-driving

Car navigation and location system

Geographic information system (GIS) and GPS are combined to get the location information such as latitude and longitude from the satellite. This information, together with road information (generated by location systems and digital map database) creates the navigation system. Currently, primary GPS/inertial measurement unit (IMU) manufacturers are NovAtel, Leica, CSI wireless, Thaskes navigation etc. 

Electronic map and map matching

Electronic maps include geographical characteristics, road, traffic and signal information. Current HD maps are of ADAS level which is being applied to L2/L3 self-driving. 

Route planning

An optimal driving path between start-end point is determined. 


Speed and direction are controlled by control platforms, i.e. electronic control unit (ECU) and communication bus. 


There are two sensors available for autonomous vehicles: Lidar and Vision. 3D imaging laser radar is currently being used. Google is using Lidar and Tesla works with Vision (using eight cameras surrounding the vehicle for 360-degree visibility). 


LiDAR helps in building a map surrounding the vehicle, thus helping in 3D visualization.  LiDAR emits light rays and measures the time of bouncing back of the rays. These reflected rays calculate the distance between objects or people and sometimes even the velocity. Lidar gives a continuous 360-degree horizontal visibility and accurate depth information. 

Companies participating in the revolution

Made ln Germany and Spirit of  Berlin developed by the Auto NOMOs Lab were the first cars which were given license for driverless driving on the road in the German state of Berlin.

Elon Musk has promised that Tesla will attain full self-driving capability by the end of the year. "I think we will be 'feature-complete' on full self-driving this year, meaning the car will be able to find you in a parking lot, pick you up, take you all the way to your destination without intervention this year. I am certain of that. That is not a question mark." said Musk. 

ArkInvest has attributed the lion's share of  $4,000 price target for Tesla's upcoming autonomous vehicles.

Amazon is also working on a multi-function autonomous vehicle with Toyota. In the upcoming summer Olympics 2020, e Palette will be launched. 

Apple has 66 self-driving minivans in California. Apple has also hired former engineer, Jaime Waydo, from Waymo and NASA in June 2018 for its project "Titan". 

Bosch band Mercedes are working on Level 4 (high automation) and level 5 (full automation) vehicles.

Intel invested $250 million in 2016 in Automated driving group (ADG), and $ 15.3 billion in 2017 to join forces with Mabileye.

Ford, GM, Honda, Huawei, Hyundai, Jaguar, Nissan and many more have joined the race. 

Self-parking, pre-safe systems are further advancements. By 2035 most cars are expected to be fully automatic without any human control.(Garza,2011).