Inroads to a fully autonomous future

Published August 15, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Inigo Roces

There’s a wide array of high-tech features in the market that are already automating many aspects of driving. As you may have noticed, these are all small parts of the larger task of driving a car.

So why don’t we have self-driving cars yet? Several brands are already working on it. Unfortunately, having a car drive itself isn’t as easy as it sounds. A lot of the aspects of driving require various skills depending on the situation. Driving a car not only involves being able to tell where other vehicles are, but also knowing where you’re going, recognizing signs, and reacting to other vehicles.

Many people ask, “Why has Tesla done it and the others haven’t?” Tesla vehicles can drive themselves to a certain extent, but cannot drive by themselves completely. Many of the videos you see of Teslas driving themselves involve long stretches of highway where cars simply need to stick to a certain speed and certain lane for a long period of time. There are very few videos that show a Tesla navigating busy city streets because it’s still quite difficult to do.

Cars that can completely drive themselves from one location to another, through city streets and highways still do not exist, but they may arrive very soon.

Many car brands and technologies have already developed various systems and vehicles that can drive on their own to some extent. Yet these are still being tested, simply because the road can throw a lot of surprises that many scientists and engineers can’t program for.

One thing for sure is that, these high tech features have already conquered trivial driving tasks like parking, braking, staying in lane, and keeping pace with other cars. Navigating more complex scenarios like stoplights, intersections and mergers are already being studied as we speak. Pretty soon, the self-driving car will be offered in showrooms near you.