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Background of Driverless Cars

Write an essay on driverless cars or automated cars?

The advancement of technology in the automobile industry has led to the development of autonomous cars. The autonomous technology will improve the overall driving comfort and safety. Many major car companies are investing in this new technology and in the very near future these cars will be available commercially for the customers (Le Vine 2015). The autonomous vehicles has the full potential to replace the traditional vehicles in the coming years. In the autonomous cars or the driverless cars the rider has to just feed the details of the destination and the vehicle will automatically take the rider to the set destination without being operated by the driver. This technology has many potential benefits like reduction in crashes due to human errors, saving fuel and improving the rider’s driving comfort (Martinez & Herrero, 2014). The autonomous cars or the driverless cars may be defined as the robotic vehicles which can navigate itself between preset destinations without any need for the operator intervention, also it should be adaptable enough to ride on those roads which have not been made for its purpose. The autonomous cars are enabled with GPS technology which helps them to locate any destination.  There are different sensors which are mounted on the vehicle to help to navigate the vehicle in busy roads. The onboard computer helps in processing the data and gives the necessary commands to the vehicle, it also integrates the functioning of the various equipment installed in the vehicle to enable smooth functioning of the vehicle (Nedjah 2014). Thus it can be said that the driverless technology is surely going to revolutionize the car industry.

The development of the technology of the autonomous technology for the cars started in the early 1920s but the actual progress in this technology started in the decade of 1950 (Kaylie, 2015). During the year 1984 the first truly autonomous car was developed by the NAVLAB of the Carnegie Mellon University. This ushered a new era for the autonomous cars and become a stepping stone for the development of the driverless cars. Further in the year 1987 a EUREKA Prometheus Project was launched by the Mercedes Benz in joint collaboration with the University of Munich, which become the largest funded project for the development of the driverless cars (Kaylie, 2015). As of 2015 major car companies has started building prototypes of the driver less cars. The major advancement in this field has been done by Google, which has equipped many cars of Toyota, Audi and Lexus RX450h with the driverless technology. Google has also collaborated with other industries to manufacture their own models of the driverless cars. The road testing of the cars fitted with Google’s driverless technology has started in the year 2012 and the company optimistic to achieve major success by the year of 2020 (Scientific Computing, 2015).

Technology Used in Driverless Cars

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the autonomous car system is basically classified on the following levels:

Level 1: Function- specific Automation- This level include the specific automation of the various type of controls like the cruise control, specific lane navigation, parking guidance.

Level 2: Automation of Combined Function – This level include the automation of the integrated control functions like the automatic speed adjustment with the lane adjustment. At this level the primary responsibity of the vehicle operation lies with the driver but he can remain disengaged with the car for some time (American Scientist, 2011).

Level 3: Partial Auto-driving Automation- At this level the onboard computer of the vehicle can perform some critical functions related to the safety and this information is used by the driver to drive the vehicle.

Level 4: Complete Automation- At this level the vehicle can navigate itself and perform all the critical functions without any human intervention (Research-Technology Management, 2014).

The latest technology that is being used in the driverless cars are as follows:

Laser Range Finder – The driverless cars are equipped with the laser range finders like LIDAR being used in the Google’s driverless cars. The laser range finder is type of camera which is mounted on the roof of the vehicle (. This camera generates the 3D images of the various obstacle around the car with the help of 64 laser beams. The main function of this camera is to estimate the real time distance between the various obstacles in front of the vehicle with the help of the high intensity laser beams. At present the range of this device is about 250 meters.

The driverless cars are mounted with a front camera which is used for detecting the objects which are just in front of the vehicle. The front camera is mounted on the windshield of the vehicle. An important feature of this camera is that this camera records the various sign boards and traffic signals along the road which are then interpreted by the onboard computer.

The driverless cars are generally equipped with four radars which are mounted on the bumpers of the car. Two radars are mounted in the front bumper and two radars are mounted on the back bumper. These radars helps in identifying the various objects both in front and back of the vehicle when it is moving (Jens, 2015). The sensors monitors the speed of the various vehicles moving in front and back of the car updates the on board computer about the distance from the other vehicles. Generally it helps to maintain a gap of 3-5 seconds from the other vehicles moving in front of the car. This innovative technology is very important for the passengers of the driverless cars as it helps in avoiding crashes and road bumps.

An important device in the driverless car is the GPS. This device helps in locating the exact position of the car with respect to the destination and gives real time feedback to the owner about the distance of the car from the destination. Since it has been found that during extreme weather conditions there are certain discrepancies in the data generated by the GPS. Thus the data generated by the GPS is always validated by a sensor map which is already installed in the vehicle (Automotive News, 2013).

Ultrasonic sensors are placed in the rear of the car to sense or detect any kind of obstacle in the rear of the vehicle. This device is currently in use in some cars which has the reverse parking assistance feature. These sensors are activated only when the car is in the reverse gear.

Most of the driverless cars that are in conceptual stage has many onboard devices like the altimeters, tachymeters and gyroscopes which help the car in evaluating its exact position with respect to the surroundings. The accuracy of the data generated by these on board computers help in the safe movement of the vehicle in different terrains.

The brain of the driverless car is the software used in the onboard computer which interprets the different data received by different sensors and helps in integrating the various function of the sensors to create a smooth driving experience (Gary Shapiro, 2014). The software of the car helps in interpreting the speeds of the different vehicles and make smart decisions to maneuver the car on busy roads. The software used in most of the driverless cars are smart enough to interpret the real road conditions, like the driverless cars slows down in intersection and if the other vehicles are not moving then the car’s programme signals the car to start moving.

Most of the driverless cars are equipped with the latest information and communication technology systems to keep the software of the care constantly updated. The ICT technology is used to send the exact location of the car to a central server if the car meets with an accident or if there is some mechanical failure.

The driverless cars are fitted with route maps of the various locations which include each and every detail of the road like, the number of turns, number poles, signboards, speed bumps etc. These maps are updated automatically on a regularly. For example In Google driverless cars the Velodyne laser range finder generates a complete 3D map of the surrounding which is then compared by the on board with the existing map to identify between the normal people or a vehicle and safely navigating through them (The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 2011).

The major advantage of the driverless cars are as follows:

One of the main advantage of the driverless cars is that it helps in reducing the overall stress associated with driving. Since in the driverless cars there is no need of any operator thus the passengers can either rest or do any work during travelling.

Another advantage of the driverless cars is these cars can be used even by those people who don’t know driving. Thus it reduces the extra cost of hiring a driver. It is also helpful for those people who are either physically disabled or due to old age are not able to drive a car.

The major benefit of the driverless car is that it reduces the risk to the safety of the commuters. Since driverless cars are completely automated cars thus it reduces the risk to safety of the passengers due to any kind of human errors.

The use of the driverless cars helps in better managing the road traffic as the computer driverless cars runs by completely adhering to the traffic rules and regulations

The Driverless cars also helps in reducing the road congestions by efficiently using the road capacity.

The driverless cars also have the ability to park efficiently which helps in efficient utilization of the parking facility.

Since the automation programmes used in driverless cars helps in improving the fuel efficiency of the car thus this helps in reducing the pollution levels and results in saving money.

The driverless technology could help propelling the economic growth of the world by increasing the overall productivity which result in saving the time and money (Jeon, 2014). The positive impact of the cars is efficient as they help in improving the economic growth of the country as well as provide fuel efficiency to the customers and protect environment pollution.

There are some negative implications which are associated with use of the driverless cars. These are illustrated below:

Since the driverless technology is a very new concept and each car is fitted with state of the art devices thus the price of the driverless cars are very high which limits the number of people who can use those cars.

The driverless cars fully automated thus it increases the risk of the system failure. Also there are still some doubt of the operation capabilities of the driverless cars in case of extreme weather conditions.

Since the information generated by the driverless cars is sent to the central servers thus there can be serious issues regarding the privacy of the commuters using the driverless cars. The information generated by the GPS can be used to disclose the location of the passenger, which can raise the privacy security concerns (.

The driverless technology can also have a reverse impact by increasing the overall cost associated with travelling. As the travelling will become easier and comfortable more and more people will travel by cars which will increase the overall cost associated with travelling. The increase in the number of the cars can also put extra burden on the existing conditions of the roads which can further increase the scenario of traffic jams and congestions on road.

The more number of cars will also lead to the increase in the consumption of fuel which will further increase the pollution levels around the city.

One of the major issue associated with the driverless cars is that it pose a major threat to the employment of the drivers. Since in major cities in the world many people are dependent on the driving job thus they will be left unemployed (.

Additional cost has to be incurred by the government to re-plan the existing city roads to suit the autonomous vehicle, which can increase the financial burden on the developing countries.


The launch of the various driverless prototype vehicles by the major car companies has raised the hope that in the very near future travelling through the driverless cars will going to be reality. But the car manufacturers also have to evaluate the various implication of the driverless cars on the society and the surrounding environment. The driverless technology will bring a paradigm change in the transportation sector.


Autonomous cars: The tension between occupant experience and intersection capacity, Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies, Le Vine, Scott; Zolfaghari, Alireza; Polak, John, (2015), Voluem-52, pages- 1 – 14.

Multilayer distributed intelligent control of an autonomous car, Transportation Research, Part C - Emerging Technologies, Martinez-Barbera, H; Herrero-Perez, D, (2014), Volume- 39C, Publisher- Elsevier B.V, Pages- 94 – 112.

Customizable hardware design of fuzzy controllers applied to autonomous car driving, Expert Systems With Applications, Nedjah, Nadia; Sandres, Paulo Renato S.S; Mourelle, Luiza De Macedo, (2014), Volume- 41, Publisher: Elsevier B.V.

Autonomous Cars Can Be Trusted, Product Design & Development, Kaylie Duffy, (2015), Publisher: Advantage Business Media.

Why we should trust autonomous cars, ProQuest Engineering Journals ECN, Kaylie Duffy, (2015), Publisher: Advantage Business Media.

Autonomous Car Prototype Folds, Shrinks, Drives Sideways, Scientific Computing, (2015), Publisher: Advantage Business Media.

Where will driverless cars take us? American Scientist, (2011), Volume: 99, Start Page: 435, Publisher: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society.

The UK government launches a policy initiative to support testing of driverless cars on British roads, Research-Technology Management, (2014), Volume-57, Publisher: Industrial Research Institute Inc.

Driverless cars, Control & Automation, Murray & Richard (2007), Volume-18, Publisher: IEEE, Pages 14 – 17.

Driverless Cars Are Already Here, TechCrunch [TechCrunch - BLOG], Jens Wohltorf, (2015), Publisher: AOL Inc.

Guardrails for driverless cars, Automotive News, (2013), Volume-88, Publisher: Crain Communications, Inc.

Driverless cars can't come soon enough: Eventually self-driving cars will prevent tragedies, but for now we must tackle distracted driving, Gary Shapiro, (2014), Publisher: WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post.

Ultrasonic sensor, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, (2011), Volume: 130, Pages-2171.

Traffic measurement on multiple drive lanes with wireless ultrasonic sensors, Sensors, Jeon, Soobin; Kwon, Eil; Jung, Inbum , (2014), Volume- 14, Pages- 22891 – 22906.

The Hindu Business Line: L&T metro adopts driverless technology, Newstex Global Business Blogs, (2014), Publisher: Newstex.

Wisconsin's Consolidated Court Automation Programs bill up for public hearing Thursday, Wisconsin Law Journal, Eric Heisig, (2014), Publisher: The Dolan Media Holding Company, a Delaware corporation.

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