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The truth about autonomous vehicles is that the future is closer to the present than far, far away. What kind of future are we referring to? The future where driverless vehicles pick up customers in a self-driving vehicle is here. A vehicle sharing service known as Waymo has taken off. This isn’t speculation, this is the reality in Arizona and soon to be in Michigan and many other places before long. This is the autonomous world we live in today, as even the Navy has undergone autonomous test vessels that are completely unmanned in the ocean. Drones fly unmanned in the skies. Land, air, and sea all have driverless products today. So, what are the next steps for the companies making the self-driving vehicles? Let us explain.
"As we begin to commercialize our business and vehicle supply grows, we're laying the foundation for a scalable, robust vehicle integration plan, starting in Michigan," Waymo said in a statement.
Some Problems Remain
While companies like Waymo have made huge progress since it began as a stand-alone company in 2016, there are legitimate problems and concerns about driverless vehicles. Those issues including snowfall and harsh weather. Current autonomous vehicles do not process and see when snow has fallen on roads. Weather seems to be the Achilles heel for autonomous vehicles at this point in time. The latest technology has not been able to help the vehicle cameras and sensors from being able to work during heavy snow, rain, fog, and sandstorms that disrupt the view of the lens. The light beams that are produced outward by the sensors bounce off the snowflakes during heavy snow, for example. Researchers have begun ways to create different light beams that will produce a way for the sensors to notice the snow.
“Once we are able to have a system reliably perform in those, then we’ll start working toward expanding to those more challenging conditions,” said Noah Zych, Uber’s head of system safety for self-driving cars.
A Global Mission
In the United States, there are similar roadway marking lines from state to state, but around the globe, there’s many different street signs and spacing between lane lines. Other differences include pavement lines, curbs, and reflectors. How will driverless vehicles handle those differences? Perhaps the hardest problems will rest with the human drivers on the road. After all, human drivers break the traffic laws all the time. How will autonomous vehicles deal with drivers that don’t follow traffic signals or play by the rules?
There has been some concern as well regarding how consumers will react to bad news about Waymo and autonomous vehicles as a whole. National polling conducted by AAA found that 73 percent of American drivers are too afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, but that number rose by 10 percent from late 2017 to late 2018. As autonomous vehicle technology improves, the companies responsible for creating these vehicles are including screens for passengers to see what the vehicle and sensors see. While it will be a while before these autonomous vehicles are everywhere, the joy of driving a vehicle is still here today and more and safe than ever.
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