Self-Driving Cars: A Fiction or Reality?

A self-driving car or an autonomous vehicle (AV) is nothing else but as you can in layman’s words, a robotic car. It is able to sense its surroundings and drive accordingly with little or no human interference. Self-driving cars usually use a variety of sensors in order to sense their environment to interpret appropriate directions, other vehicles, and traffic signs.

Evolution of an Idea

There have been a lot of trials in the arena of automated driving systems (ADS) since the beginning of the twentieth century. The first semi-automated car was developed in 1977, by Japan’s Tsukuba Mechanical Engineering Laboratory, which was applicable for some particular streets interpreted by two cameras embedded in the vehicle with an analog computer fixed inside. It could reach speeds up to 30 kilometers per hour (19 mph).

Photo by Mike from Pexels

          A major milestone was achieved in 1995, when Carnegie Mellon University’s NavLab 5 completed the first autonomous drive across the United States, between Pittsburgh, PA and San Diego, CA with an average speed of 102.3 kilometers per hour (63.8 mph).

          NavLAb’s record remained untouched until 2015 when Delphi put an automated system in Audi and drove it through 15 states while remaining in the self-driving mode most of the time.

          And now, there has been a lot of works in the field by Audi using their ‘Audi AI’, Waymo who has claimed to test driverless cars across all over the US and is also inputting a lot of hard work with their daily upcoming innovations.

Levels of Automation

Photo by Derwin Edwards from Pexels

Level 0: In this, there is no vehicle control, though there may be various occasional warnings in-between the driving of the vehicle.

Level 1: The driver and the automated system share their parts. If the driver is controlling the steering then the ADS would be maintaining a constant speed (Cruise Control) and vice-versa.

Level 2: The automated driving system controls everything though the driver also needs to monitor the driving so as to intervene at any time for an emergency.

Level 3: The driver can turn their attention away from driving a little bit like can text or watch a movie but should still be ready to intervene for an immediate response.

Level 4: ADS is the boss here. No driver’s attention is required at this level, i.e. driver can sleep or leave the driver’s seat. Self-driving needs support under special circumstances, like traffic jams. And inside those circumstances, the vehicle is able to park itself until the driver takes the control again.

Level 5: This does not require any human intervention. The best example is a robotic taxi.


Though we are still under an experimental stage but there is only a little time passing until we make the use of fully automated self-driving cars as new creations are coming forward with every single second crossing. Maybe in the next decade, the fictions like, ‘Total Recall’ (1990), ‘Timecop’ (1994), ‘I, Robot’ (2005) will be turning into a reality.

Follow us on social media:

Published By: Chirag Radhyan

Heya viewers, I expect you to see me as a writer who likes to dip his legs in every water body he comes across. I am just freelancing with my writing on this awesome website as my mind likes to wander in all the different worlds we humans have created. I am a keen learner and try to keep a little knowledge about everything. All the opinions and queries are welcome, all you gotta do is... Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply