Driverless Cars: It’s All in the Sensors

illustration of sensors surrounding driverless car
Driverless cars rely on sensors to detect obstacles.
illustration of sensors surrounding driverless car
Driverless cars rely on sensors to detect obstacles.

After years of unmanned vehicle research in the military realm, the driverless car is gaining traction in the consumer world, with numerous test projects currently underway. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a preliminary policy statement about automated vehicles in late May, calling for experimentation to continue at a moderate pace. “The United States is on the threshold of a period of dramatic change in the capabilities of, and expectations for, the vehicles we drive. In fact, many are inspired by the vision that the vehicles will do the driving for us,” the report states.

At the two-day Driverless Car Summit in Detroit this week, where KVH is a show sponsor, professionals from the many fields related to driverless car technology are discussing the latest issues and developments, including legality, insurance, connectivity, safety, and public perception.

What do all autonomous applications have in common? Sensors. Indeed, a multitude of sensors are needed to enable an autonomous vehicle to go from Point A to Point B, sensing obstacles and avoiding collisions along the way. KVH’s many precision products, such as the DSP-1750 fiber optic gyroscope, 1750 IMU (inertial measurement unit), and the CNS-5000 inertial navigation system (INS), are used in a variety of sensor applications that provide essential motion information to the control systems of unmanned vehicles.

The benefits of driverless cars are expected to include everything from fuel efficiency to safety, with some car manufacturers predicting that automobile accident fatalities could be eliminated entirely. In recent years, car manufacturers have already introduced autonomous features – for example, Audi’s self-parking system and Volvo’s pedestrian warning feature – but entirely autonomous driving is still in the test phase. Three states – California, Florida, and Nevada – have legalized driverless cars on public roads for test purposes. In Europe, Volvo has been involved with a project testing driverless road trains, which are designed to increase driver safety and reduce fuel consumption.

Experts expect driverless cars to become available to consumers sometime between 2018 and 2022, and although there is no consensus on the exact timing, experts do agree on one thing: Driverless cars will become a reality — because the benefits far outweigh the minimal risks associated with autonomous vehicles. In addition, current research and development is heavily focused on reducing those minimal risks even further.

To learn more about KVH products and their application in driverless technology, visit Driving the Future. Let us know your thoughts about the potential benefits you expect from driverless cars.

About Jill Connors 93 Articles
In orbit as Media Relations Manager for KVH Industries, Inc.

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