SELF-DRIVING CARS REPLACE HUMAN-DRIVERS: self-driving car, also known as an autonomous vehicle, autonomous car, driver-less car, or robotic car, is a car incorporating vehicular automation, that is, a ground vehicle that is capable of sensing its environment and moving safely with little or no human input.
10 Best Cars with Self-Driving Features for 2021
You’ve probably seen the headlines and debates about self-driving cars — how soon they’ll be technologically feasible and legally allowed. Various tech companies are experimenting with systems that let cars drive without human intervention.
But you don’t have to wait for these future technologies. While today’s cars won’t fully drive themselves — you must stay attentive in all cases, and most require you to hold the steering wheel — many of them have semi-autonomous features that make them safer and easier to drive. These include adaptive cruise control, which maintains a minimum distance from the car in front of you as it slows down and speeds back up; automatic emergency braking, which can autonomously slam the brakes to avoid or mitigate a collision; blind-spot monitoring, which uses radar to help prevent you from changing lanes into another vehicle; a lane-departure warning that lets you know if you stray over the line; and lane-keeping assistance, which automatically steers the car to stay in its lane. Whether you want an affordable compact car or a top-of-the-line luxury model, here are the 10 best cars with self-driving features for 2021.
- 2021 Mazda3. We promised you don’t have to spend a lot to get a great car with self-driving features, and the 2021 Mazda3 proves it.
- 2021 Cadillac CT4.
- 2021 BMW 7 Series.
- 2021 Tesla Model 3.
- 2021 Hyundai Sonata.
- 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
- 2021 Audi A5.
- 2021 Honda Accord.
There has been incremental, but steady, progress in the development of self-driving cars. Some form of driver-assistance technology focused on safety is now inside most new vehicles.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) defines six levels of vehicle driving automation systems. Right now, we’re at level two, with cars able to control steering, acceleration and braking, while still requiring drivers to remain engaged. Down the road, level 5 autonomy would mean fully driverless cars.
But the transition into the future hasn’t always been smooth. As the technology advances, drivers adjust, and the government tries to keep up.
Among the new crowd of autonomous vehicles is the 2022 Honda Civic. One of the newest settings on the standard-issue Honda Civic is it can drive itself down the road itself, then smoothly break behind a stopped car.
Honda told CBS News the system is not intended or capable of detecting the end of a road, and is not marketed or considered a hands-free technology. adding that it’s the driver’s responsibility to maintain control at all times, CBS News’ Brook Silva-Braga reports.
But researcher Kelly Funkhauser, who tests self-driving technology for Consumer Reports, worries such systems work so well most of the time that many drivers won’t be ready when the inevitable exception pops up.
“There’s a tendency to find a stimulus because you’re bored,” she said. “Monitoring a system that’s performing well is extremely boring but the problem is the features aren’t quite up to speed yet in their capabilities.”
For all automakers, the promise of self-driving is both convenience and safety. But neither has fully arrived quite yet.
“Is the person driving or is the person not driving? Because if they’re driving then this stuff seems pointless and if they’re not driving you can’t ask them to drive at a moment’s notice,” Silva-Braga said.
“Exactly, and that’s what they’re saying is, they’re giving you the little legalese warning, ‘Take over, ’cause we don’t want responsibility. You must pay attention, even though we know it’s boring and we know that you’re a human being and you’re not going to, but we don’t want responsibility because we know that our system’s not perfect.’ That’s where we are,” said Funkhauser.
In the 1950s, GM imagined self-driving cars by the 1970s. In 2018, they promised them within a year.
Elon Musk previously said a Tesla would self-drive across the country by 2017. It still hasn’t, and instead, the company faces federal investigations and lawsuits over some alleged instances of failure of its autopilot system.
Waymo launched self-driving car taxis but the high-end sensors are far too costly for mass production vehicles. TuSimple launched a self-driving option for its semi-tractor-trailers, but they still come equipped with human safety drivers.
“A lot of people are finding out that developing for all the chaos of the roadway is a lot harder than anyone ever thought,” Funkhauser said.
Last year, Elon Musk conceded he did not expect self-driving to be so hard. Then, he launched an audacious plan to solve it, putting a full self-drive system on real roads and using carefully screened Tesla owners to chaperon the cars as they worked on their driving. The idea is all these test miles will teach Tesla’s system in ways only the real world can.
Tesla did not respond to CBS News’ request for comment, but has described the beta tests as a safe way to make their software better. Some critics, however, argue it’s a potential menace to anyone on the roads.
Consumer Reports wants automakers to only enable these features for drivers who agree to compromise their privacy and be actively tracked, as Tesla and GMC drivers, to an extent, already are. Otherwise, Funkhauser said she does not trust drivers to actively watch these imperfect systems, which could need watching much longer than we’d hoped.
“I don’t think you can order a car, pick you up from your house, take you to work until probably 2050,” she said.
Funkhouser says the biggest thing that would help self-driving cars is if they could communicate with each other and objects around them, but that also may not happen any time soon. In the last days of the Trump administration, the FCC took away most of the radio spectrum that cars were planning to use. Unless that changes, experts, including Funkhauser, say it will be much more difficult for cars to communicate.
Honda released a statement writing that “While Honda is working on advanced automated driving capabilities for future vehicles, the driver assistive and safety features standard on all 2022 Honda Civic models as part of Honda Sensing® are not marketed or considered as automated or “hands free” vehicle technology. Further, Honda always emphasizes that the driver must be prepared to intervene, with or without Honda Sensing features activated.”
They added that the Adaptive Cruise Control function “is not intended nor capable of detecting the end of a roadway or test track. ACC is designed to help manage a driver-selected vehicle speed and driver-selected following interval behind a detected vehicle while traveling on limited-access expressways or freeways and in good road and weather conditions.”
Honda said that the Honda Sensing does include an automated emergency braking system, but it is not intended or capable of detecting the transition from a roadway to an adjacent grass surface. “The CMBS function is instead designed to detect vehicles or objects ahead of the vehicle and apply the brakes in order to avoid or mitigate a crash. Similarly, the Lane Keeping Assist System requires the driver to maintain steering control. The system is intended for use on limited-access expressways or freeways and is designed to assist the driver by providing small steering inputs to help keep the vehicle centered in a detected lane.”
Autonomous cars create and maintain a map of their surroundings based on a variety of sensors situated in different parts of the vehicle. Radar sensors monitor the position of nearby vehicles. Video cameras detect traffic lights, read road signs, track other vehicles, and look for pedestrians.
Do self-driving cars need Internet?
Self-driving cars work through a simple, yet highly complex system using the Internet of Things. The IoT allows devices to be connected wirelessly to a cloud system.
Is self-driving car safe?
“Autonomous vehicles can be trained to be safer than human-controlled cars. With sensors and cameras, they can enhance the safety of a driver as well as pedestrians by eliminating human error.”
PROS AND CONS OF DRIVERLESS CARS
As humans, we’re always trying to make our lives easier, whether that’s by inventing machines to take over labor-intensive jobs or by creating applications to help us get work done faster. Technology is advancing exponentially faster the longer time goes on, and one of the biggest technological advancements we’ve seen as a result of this is driverless cars.
Unfortunately, there are many safety concerns associated with driverless cars which have the potential to cause legal issues in the event of an accident. That being said, they aren’t exactly widespread yet. So even though there’s no doubt driverless cars will be a prominent part of our future, for now, we can only speculate on their pros and cons, and how they could affect our daily lives.
Advantages of Driverless Cars
There are millions of car accidents each year in the United States and, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the vast majority of them are caused by human error. While it’s unrealistic to think a self-driving car would be perfect, the hope is they would help reduce instances of accidents caused by human error.
Some additional pros self-driving cars may offer include:
- Reducing the amount of money spent on insurance and healthcare costs by reducing the frequency of car accidents
- Providing a more efficient way for those with disabilities to get around
- Protecting a driver by pulling over and stopping the car in the event they suffer a medical emergency while driving manually
- Saving time by improving the flow of traffic and allowing passengers to get things done while traveling
- Reducing things like traffic jams, commute times, congestion, and gas usage
- Cutting down on the amount of traffic stops police need to make and allowing them to focus on other crimes
- Saving thousands of lives by preventing DWIs
Disadvantages of Driverless Cars
The biggest con associated with driverless cars is that they would cause many people to lose their jobs. Not only would cab companies and rideshares disappear over time, but trucking companies would no longer need to hire drivers to transport goods.
Improved driving would mean police departments would need fewer officers to handle things like traffic and speeding tickets. Finally, since it’s expected that most driverless cars will rely solely on electricity for power, the fossil fuel industry will eventually fizzle out.
Along with lost jobs, there are several other cons of self-driving cars:
- Drivers may need to attend special training classes to learn how to operate their autonomous vehicle safely
- Vehicles would depend more on GPS for direction and, unfortunately, GPS isn’t 100 percent accurate
- Driverless cars will cost substantially more than we’re used to
- Within a few decades, people will no longer be able to drive a non-autonomous vehicle
- Their dependence on computers may mean autonomous cars are more prone to hackers and other cyber threats
- It may take some time for driverless vehicles to handle inclement weather well enough to make them safer than manual vehicles
- Widespread adoption would be necessary before there was any substantial reduction in injuries and deaths associated with traffic accidents
- Determining fault in an accident would be more difficult, as it may not be clear whether the accident was caused by a vehicle passenger, the manufacturer, or a mechanical failure
While there are some partially autonomous vehicles on the market right now, we don’t have anything that’s fully autonomous just yet. However, pros and cons aside, it’s likely it won’t be long until driverless cars are more commonplace.