Autonomous Vehicles, also known as Driverless Vehicles, represent a novel mode of transportation wherein they possess the capability to perceive and navigate their surroundings safely without human intervention. These vehicles are equipped to operate independently, adapt to unforeseen circumstances, and effectively react to dangerous circumstances.
The automotive industry recognizes various stages of vehicle automation, ranging from 0 to 5. These stages encompass different levels of automation, starting from conditional automation, partial automation, driver assistance, no automation, high automation, and culminating in full automation.
Presently, many new cars incorporate automation features, comprising advanced driver assistance systems and automated safety features. However, there are isolated environments where vehicles, denoting full automation, are already in existence.
The use case presented here revolves around full automation, which represents the pinnacle of driving automation. While autonomous vehicles serve various purposes today, including public transportation like the Sydney Metro in Australia and commercial applications such as freight trains and mining trucks, this particular use case focuses on autonomous road vehicles like cars, trucks, and buses.
The aim is to explore their seamless integration into the current road traffic network, considering the future implications and possibilities they hold.
Modern developments in fully autonomous vehicles involve the integration of multiple technologies, such as GPS and a range of sensors including cameras, radar, and lidar. These sensors play a crucial role in gathering essential information to ensure safe navigation. Camera sensors, for instance, enable the vehicle to visually perceive objects on the road, providing a comprehensive 360° view of the surrounding environment to enhance situational awareness and enable effective decision-making.
The advanced sensors employed in autonomous vehicles have the capability to autonomously detect various objects such as pedestrians, vehicles, and traffic signs. These sensors not only identify the objects but also classify them, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of the environment.
By utilizing short- and long-range radar sensors, the vehicle emits radio waves to accurately perceive objects in its vicinity. This real-time assessment includes determining the distances between objects and the vehicle, as well as their respective speeds, enabling precise and informed decision-making.
In the realm of autonomous vehicles, short-range radar assumes crucial roles in parking aids, lane-keeping assistance, and blind spot monitoring. On the other hand, long-range radar systems are employed for automatic brake assistance and distance control, ensuring optimal safety and control.
In an alternative approach, Light Detection and Ranging (lidar) sensors can be utilized as substitutes for radar. These lidar sensors leverage laser technology to generate three-dimensional images of objects and their immediate surroundings, enabling a comprehensive 360° mapping around the vehicle, as opposed to a limited view.
Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are interconnected IoT devices capable of seamless communication with other connected devices. This includes establishing communication channels with other vehicles as well as with roadside infrastructure.
These interconnected devices collaborate to enhance traffic optimization by exchanging information through a comprehensive package. This package includes synchronized traffic signaling, management of lane and speed use, intelligent network insights, and provision of traveler data.
Once fully implemented and widely adopted, AVs offer numerous advantages, such as a substantial decrease in private vehicle ownership, as the affordability of personal autonomous vehicles remains uncertain, leading to a shift towards shared usage among users.
The reduction in the number of vehicles on the road would lead to a significant improvement in vehicle emissions and traffic congestion, especially when complemented by the use of electric vehicles powered by renewable energies.
Moreover, this will result in shorter travel times, which will have a notable positive impact on emergency services, freight, and delivery operations. Additionally, the elimination of drivers (human) in freight services will lead to reduced operating costs, potentially leading to cost savings for consumers.
Another significant advantage of AVs is the enhancement of road safety. Currently, a significant percentage of road traffic accidents in the United States, ranging from 94% to 96%, can be attributed to human error. The implementation of autonomous vehicles will mitigate this risk by utilizing various technologies to effectively detect and respond to road hazards.
During the transitional phase before the extensive adoption of AVs, there will be a need for seamless integration of these vehicles into the existing traffic ecosystem, allowing them to coexist and interact with manually operated vehicles.
Once AVs become more readily available and their safety record is well-established, it is anticipated that there will be a significant increase in the adoption of AV vehicles, especially if governments implement incentives to promote their usage. This shift in the vehicle landscape would lead to a transition from predominantly driver-operated vehicles to a higher proportion of driverless vehicles on the road.
To ensure a successful integration of AVs into general traffic, it is crucial to develop AV integration strategies that address logistical, structural, safety and challenges that may arise. The introduction of a new mode of transport has the potential to disrupt the existing network, necessitating the development of an integration plan that takes into account the needs of pre-existing services and infrastructure.