What they look
This car is a LUTZ pod. It was developed by the
Oxford Robotics Institute. It was successfully tested in the centre of Milton
Keynes in 2016.
The different ways of describing these vehicles
There is no agreed phrase. You’ll see several
different terms: driverless vehicles (or cars), self-driving cars, autonomous
vehicles (AVs), robotic cars, automated vehicles, highly automated vehicles
and connected vehicles.
A self-driving car is one that is capable of
sensing its environment and navigating without human input.
A connected vehicle uses various communication technologies to
communicate with the driver, other vehicles, roadside infrastructure, and the
autonomous vehicles are connected, but a connected vehicle may not be
technology may consist of
- Two cameras to scan for obstacles and detect changes in traffic lights
- A radar sensor, which can detect
objects and their speeds at long distancesand which, unlike cameras, can ‘see’ through fog, rain, dust, sand and
- A laser-radar (‘lidar’) which can see
clearly in 3-D. Often on the roof, rotating to scan all directions
- Sonars can see smaller objects in more
detail than radar, but only close up, so are used for e.g. parking.
- A GPS (global positioning system)
- An on-board computer which synthesises
The six levels of automation
0 - No
1 — Driver Assistance: for
example, adaptive braking if a car gets too close to another.
2 — Partial
Automation: the system can control the speed and direction of the car, but the
driver has to monitor the road at all times and be ready to take over.
3 — Conditional
Automation: the driver can leave functions like braking to the technology when
conditions are safe.
4 — High
Automation: if conditions are safe, the car can do all the driving.
5 — Complete Automation: the system can cope with all weather, traffic and lighting
conditions. No need for pedals, brakes, or a steering wheel. (No-one has
got this far.)
Each year, around the world, there are some 1.2 million road deaths.
Murder, suicide and war together account for 1.6 million.
Driverless cars should be compared to how safely the average human drives.
Of course, we want self-driving cars to be safer than when humans drive. But
how much safer? We might want those that ferry children to be ten times as safe
(i.e. they can drive ten times further without having an accident).
The biggest risks
(and gains) are unpredictable
Technology has unintended consequences: downsides and upsides. The engineers who
built the fledgling Arpanet in 1969, which evolved into the Internet,
never dreamed that networking technology would so disrupt journalism, although
it also created the ‘blogosphere’.
Nor did anyone guess that smartphones would make people ignore one
another at the dinner table – although they also communicate avidly through
social media. Henry Ford did not foresee the traffic jam.And so on.
How do we prepare for risks that we cannot foresee? How do we do so
without losing the potential of the new?
An example of uncertainty
It is possible that we are passing a peak in car ownership. In cities especially it will no longer be necessary to own a car at all. All you will need to
do is call for a car through a smart phone or telephone call and one will be
there to pick you up in minutes. This will mean much greater flexibility for
people and reduce all of the costs of car ownership.
other hand, we might own a self-driving car because it can become a
self-reproducing consumer in its own right, earning enough as a taxi to collect
and pay for its own fuel, taxes and repairs, and then to pay for its