Browse Definitions:
Definition

driverless car

A driverless car (sometimes called a self-driving car, an automated car or an autonomous vehicle) is a robotic vehicle that is designed to travel between destinations without a human operator. To qualify as fully autonomous, a vehicle must be able to navigate without human intervention to a predetermined destination over roads that have not been adapted for its use.

Companies developing and/or testing driverless cars include Audi, BMW, Ford, Google, General Motors, Volkswagen and Volvo. Google's test involved a fleet of self-driving cars -- six Toyota Prii and an Audi TT -- navigating over 140,000 miles of California streets and highways. A single accident occurred during one of the infrequent occasions when a human was driving. Another test of over 1000 miles was completed successfully with no human intervention. 

Here’s how Google’s cars work:

  • The “driver” sets a destination. The car’s software calculates a route and starts the car on its way.
  • A rotating, roof-mounted LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging - a technology similar to radar) sensor monitors a 60-meter range around the car and creates a dynamic 3-D  map of the car’s current environment.
  • A sensor on the left rear wheel monitors sideways movement to detect the car’s position relative to the 3-D map.
  • Radar systems in the front and rear bumpers calculate distances to obstacles.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) software in the car is connected to all the sensors and has input from Google Street View and video cameras inside the car.
  • The AI simulates human perceptual and decision-making processes and controls actions in driver-control systems such as steering and brakes.
  • The car’s software consults Google Maps for advance notice of things like landmarks and traffic signs and lights.
  • An override function is available to allow a human to take control of the vehicle.

Proponents of systems based on driverless cars say they would eliminate accidents caused by driver error, which is currently the cause of almost all traffic accidents. Furthermore, the greater precision of an automatic system could improve traffic flow, dramatically increase highway capacity and reduce or eliminate traffic jams. Finally, the systems would allow commuters to do other things while traveling, such as working, reading or sleeping.

 

Sebastian Thrun, who helped develop Google’s cars, discusses self-driven cars at TED and shows a demonstration:

The history of driverless cars goes back much further than most people realize -- Leonardo da Vinci designed the first prototype around 1478. Leonardo’s car was designed as a self-propelled robot powered by springs, with programmable steering and the ability to run pre-set courses.

Self-driving vehicles are not yet legal on most roads. In June 2011, Nevada, US became the first jurisdiction in the world to allow driverless cars on public roadways.

 

See also: Global Positioning System (GPS) 

 

Continue reading about driverless cars:

> Wikipedia’s entry about driverless cars

> From Google’s blog: What we’re driving at

> The New York Times reports on Google’s driverless car tests

This was last updated in September 2011

Join the conversation

3 comments

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

How to work driverless car work with computer software
Cancel
how was it developed?
Cancel
Amaizing techoligy
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

  • PCAOB (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board)

    The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) is a Congressionally-established nonprofit that assesses audits of public ...

  • cyborg anthropologist

    A cyborg anthropologist is an individual who studies the interaction between humans and technology, observing how technology can ...

  • RegTech

    RegTech, or regulatory technology, is a term used to describe technology that is used to help streamline the process of ...

SearchSecurity

  • Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)

    The Advanced Encryption Standard, or AES, is a symmetric block cipher used by the U.S. government to protect classified ...

  • identity theft

    Identity theft, also known as identity fraud, is a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of personally identifiable ...

  • spear phishing

    Spear phishing is an email-spoofing attack that targets a specific organization or individual, seeking unauthorized access to ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

  • mass notification system (MNS)

    A mass notification system is a platform that sends one-way messages to inform employees and the public of an emergency.

  • disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)

    One approach to a strong disaster recovery plan is DRaaS, where companies offload data replication and restoration ...

SearchStorage

  • CIFS (Common Internet File System)

    CIFS (Common Internet File System) is a protocol that gained popularity around the year 2000, as vendors worked to establish an ...

  • GlusterFS (Gluster File System)

    GlusterFS (Gluster File System) is an open source distributed file system that can scale out in building-block fashion to store ...

  • virtual memory

    Virtual memory is a memory management capability of an OS that allows a computer to compensate for physical memory shortages by ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • Tier 0

    Tier 0 (tier zero) is a level of data storage that is faster, and perhaps more expensive, than any other level in the storage ...

  • PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive)

    A PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive) is a high-speed expansion card that attaches a computer to its peripherals.

  • SSD caching

    SSD caching, also known as flash caching, is the temporary storage of data on NAND flash memory chips in a solid-state drive so ...

SearchCloudStorage

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

  • Zadara VPSA and ZIOS

    Zadara Storage provides block, file or object storage with varying levels of compute and capacity through its ZIOS and VPSA ...

Close