The future of self-driving cars

From cruise control to automatic parking, all the steps to self-driving cars

Self-driving cars are one of the hottest topics in the world of tech right now, and it’s not hard to see why. For as much as people romanticize driving, it can be a monotonous, tiring activity, and even good drivers can make mistakes that end in gruesome accidents. If cars can drive themselves and use advanced tech to avoid accidents entirely, wouldn’t that be nice?

Automation isn’t a binary concept, however, it’s a spectrum, with varying degrees as humans hand over responsibilities to the machine.

How do we define a self-driving car?

The society of Automotive Engineers created an international standard for measuring the degrees of automation in cars, called J3016.

autonomoy will change the way you purchase and finance cars bmw autonomous 5 series 4

The scale runs from 0 to 5, with 0 being no automation (so, good old-fashioned cars like the Model T or ‘70s sports cars). From levels 1 to 2, the person in the driver’s seat has to, at the very least, supervise the car, even if they’re using support features to steer or maintain acceleration. For example, cruise control can keep a car going at a constant speed without the driver needing to think about maintaining speed, but the driver is still in control of the car, and

Once you get to levels 3-5, the car can drive itself (for levels 3 and 4, only under certain predetermined conditions).

SAE takes into account whether features added to a car are “driver support” features, that might make it easier to brake, but still leave the act of driving to the driver.

Levels of Automation

Level 2 cars can use cameras, ultrasonic sensors, RADAR and LIDAR to scan surroundings, then uses artificial intelligence to determine whether something is a distinct object, whether it’s a human or another car, and so on. These “self-driving” cars still are far from perfect, however, and sometimes have trouble recognizing objects.

Automation could improve shipping, making it so cross country trucker no longer need to focus on driving during the long, empty stretches of highway they spend much of their time on. Trucking companies are investing in this tech, eager to reduce the risk of costly accidents.

At level 3, the car is using “conditional automation.” At this level, the car can drive itself in many conditions, and doesn’t need the human driver to monitor, although it will, in certain conditions, request the driver take the wheel.

At level 4, the car can drive in most conditions and won’t even need the human to intervene. Level 5 is much the same, but the car can drive in basically any conditions.


Audi’s traffic light information system shows the challenges facing V2X tech

Audi’s traffic light information system is among the first commercial applications of potentially game-changing V2X tech. So how does it work in the real world? We spent a few days getting stuck at red lights to find out.
Product Review

Chris is the virtual co-pilot phone-obsessives need in their car

Driving while using your phone is dangerous, and often illegal. Meet Chris, the digital assistant for your car that wants to help keep your hands off your phone, and your eyes on the road.

Shift it yourself: How to drive stick in a manual transmission car

Driving a manual transmission car might seem intimidating at first, but it's not as difficult as you might think. Knowing how to operate this type of gearbox will serve you well. Here's everything you need to know to learn how to drive…

Nvidia’s new simulator brings virtual learning to autonomous vehicle developers

Nvidia introduced a simulator for testing autonomous vehicle technologies. Drive Constellation is a cloud-based platform technology vendors can use to validate systems efficiently, safely, and much faster than with vehicles on real roads.

This modified Land Rover Discovery is heading to Africa to help fight malaria

A Land Rover Discovery will be used by the Mobile Malaria Project for a 3,900-mile trek across Africa to study malaria. The SUV is equipped with a mobile gene-sequencing laboratory, as well as everything necessary for serious off-roading.

Volvo wants to use speed limiters, in-car cameras, and data to reduce crashes

Volvo believes new tech is the best way to improve car safety. The Swedish automaker will let owners set speed limits when loaning out their cars, install cameras to monitor drivers, and use data to design better safety features.
Product Review

The Ferrari Portofino is the super stallion you’ll want to drive every day

With the introduction of the Portofino, Ferrari addresses the California T’s stylistic shortcomings while improving comfort, convenience, and performance. There’s little “entry-level” about this super stallion.

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe teased way ahead of its November debut

The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is coming to the United States, eventually. The new compact BMW won't be unveiled until the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show in November. The Gran Coupe will be based on a front-wheel drive platform.

Tesla lets you skip the dealership, order a car from the comfort of your couch

Tesla has always bypassed traditional dealerships, and it has now adopted an online-only sales model that lets customers configure and order their car without leaving their couch. Here's what you need to know.

Autonomous shuttle rides coming to New York City via Optimus Ride

Workers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in NY City will soon be able to make their way around the 300-acre industrial park in Optimus Ride's self-driving shuttles. The tech startup says it's the first trial of its kind in the state.

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi group uses Microsoft cloud platform for connected cars

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is launching a new cloud platform for its cars. Based on Microsoft Azure, the Alliance Intelligent Cloud will enable features like connected services and over-the-air updates.

The 2019 Toyota C-HR gains a popular tech feature as its price comes down

Toyota has updated the C-HR, its entry-level crossover, by adding an entry-level trim level to the lineup. Every model regardless of price also comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay.
Product Review

2019 Volkswagen Jetta offers German refinement and tech at an affordable price

With enough tech to make villains jealous, the Volkswagen Jetta punches above its class as a forward-thinking sedan. Spacious, comfortable, and efficient, the Jetta is a refined offering. German refinement comes with a serious attitude.

The 2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe is an exercise in form-over-function design

Porsche expanded its lineup of SUVs with a swoopier evolution of the Cayenne named Cayenne Coupe. Don't let the name fool you: it still has four doors. It stands out with a fastback-like roofline that's lower than the Cayenne's.