Autonomous car tech has been in the news recently more often than it ever was and for all the right reasons. At least most of the times. Car makers are obviously working to make autonomous cars a reality, but we do have tech giants like Google as well. We also keep hearing about Apple's car from time to time. If you ask the tech writer inside me, the future looks quite interesting. The purist in me gets a little more nervous every time he hears about automatic cars.
The US car maker Ford showed off an improved version of autonomous car system. Ford's latest experiment, Project Nightonomy, was quite a daring one as the car was driving all by itself in total dark. Pitch dark. No headlights, no cameras, no ultrasonic sensors. There was nothing to guide the car except for the Lidar. Oh, and there was a scientist inside the car who could see nothing but the darkness. Things you do for your employer and other human beings. Both the car and the scientist came out unscathed at the end of the experiment.
Lidar is a system that uses laser light to illuminate the objects and detect and avoid them. Basically, these data is fed into the computer in real time to create a map of the surrounding and navigate. Lidar is not a whole new technology. Its origin is in the 1960s. But it has evolved over the years like any other technology. Today it's so advanced that a car can be driven in complete darkness while solely relying on it.
Even if fully autonomous cars go into mass production in the next five years, it will still take some time to get the human drivers out of them. If not, then we will at least see a major bump in the safety of the current cars. Plus, the purists will always be rooting for full manual cars.