Autonomous vehicles are packed with technology. There is a wide variety of sensing and control technology used, including cameras, lidar, GPS, infrared, and others. here’s a short description of each technology:

1. Camera: well known and already used sensor in most new cars that allows to distinguish and interpret textures and’s use for example for parking.

2. Lidar: short for light detection and ranging, this device provide a 360 scan around the car in 3D, which gives information about the surrounding area in a range of more than 100m.

3. GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System): it’s a high-level precision GPS that provides the accuracy, availability and reliability that a vehicle requires to be self-driving. GNSS technology is capable of providing decimetre-level accuracy to ensure a vehicle stays in its lane or a safe distance from other vehicles.

4. Radar: short for radio detection and ranging, is a sensor system that uses radio waves to determine the velocity, range and angle of objects. Radar can work in every condition and even use reflection to see behind obstacles.

5. FIRS(Far Infrared Sensors): these sensors easily provide a heat profile of living objects in low or even zero light situations. The data from the FIR sensors is quickly processed in the pedestrian recognition algorithms.

6. Ultrasonic sensors: ultrasonic emissions are effective sounds waves with high frequencies, suitable for short to medium range applications at low speed.


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Autonomous vehicles are the revolution in our future transport, although, their purpose are simple and clear, they are really complex machines depending on how each automobile constructor or company offers products based on comfort, security, automation level, performance and utility that will overcome challenges such as reducing road accidents, managing traffic flow and providing a safer driving experience.

SAE International has a formal classification system for autonomous vehicles, ranging from level 0 to level 5, here is a quick description for each level:

level 0: no automation, classic vehicles, the driver does everything to control it.

level 1: the driver can be assisted for some parts of driving tasks by an automated system.

level 2: an automated system can control some parts of driving tasks while the driver monitors the system and perform other driving tasks.

level 3: an automated system can both actually conduct some parts of the driving task and monitor the driving environment in some instances, but the human driver must be ready to take back control when the automated system requests.

level 4:  an automated system can conduct the driving task and monitor the driving environment, and the human need not takes back control, but the automated system can operate only in certain environments and under certain conditions.

level 5: full automation, the automated system can perform all driving tasks under all conditions where a human driver could perform them.

Autonomous vehicles examples:

Volvo ‘Drive Me’ Project:

volvo car

Company: Volvo

Location: Sweden

Autonomous level: 3

The project involved 100 self-driving Volvos driven by real costumers on public roads in everyday driving conditions, legislators, transport authorities, and major city. it occurred in the Swedish city of Gothenburg in 2014.

reports have shown that was a success and most objectives have been met while the sophisticated Autopilot technology performed well.

“The test cars are now able to handle lane following, speed adaption and merging traffic all by themselves. This is an important step towards our aim that the final ‘Drive Me’ cars will be able to drive the whole test route in highly autonomous mode. The technology, which will be called Autopilot, enables the driver to hand over the driving to the vehicle, which takes care of all driving functions,” says Erik Coelingh, Technical Specialist at Volvo Car Group.



Company: Google

Location: USA

Autonomous level: 4

Google self-driving car project is aiming for a highly automated system under certain conditions like geographic location such as designated routes in downtown or under certain weather conditions.

it’s interesting to notice that the company is manufacturing their own detection systems on its self-driving cars, which includes vision systems, radars, and light detection.

“Over the years, we’ve expanded our testing to four US locations. By driving every day in different types of real-world conditions, we teach our cars to navigate safely and comfortably through all sorts of situations.” as mentioned in the official website of the company, these tests occurred since 2009.


In one hand, Based on SAE classification system, Volvo’s self-driving car fits most likely in level 3, as mentioned before, project managers tested their cars on specific features in which automated system take controls of a part of driving tasks and monitor environment to be able to handle lane following, speed adaption and merging traffic autonomously, although a human driver can still take the control at anytime.

In the other hand, Waymo’s autonomous car is definitely level 4, designed to be tested in certain conditions and specific locations with a minimum human intervention in a process of machine learning.

Autonomous vehicles applications:

1. traffic flow: autonomous vehicles can be an effective way to manage traffic flow in highly congested areas especially in downtown, thus, it will reduce congestion and save time for drivers, but also reducing fuel consumption.

2. safety: one of the main purposes of an autonomous vehicle is to reduce road accidents due to human factors and behaviours such as fatigue, alcoholism, drug consumption, stress, distraction, violation of traffic laws and misjudgement, although a lot of work is still te bo done to improve automated systems to make safer decisions in particular situations.

3. transportation: either in public transport like buses, tramways, trains or private services such as taxis, autonomous vehicles can provide an easier way to reach destinations and everyone benefits from it including people with restricted mobility or in emergency cases.