The what?

Driverless cars are have become a concrete reality and will undisputedly pave the way for our future transportation and while Google and Tesla are considered to be the juggernauts of autonomous vehicles many other corporations, including car manufactures as well as other companies, are participating in the development of the technology (Weber, 2012).

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The technology permitting the driverless cars is called Lidar, which is an abbreviation of light detection and ranging. The technology works like a radar, which “maps points in space using 64 rotating laser beams taking more than a million measurements per second to form a 3D model in its computer brain that’s accurate to the centimetre” (Deaton and Hall-Geisler, 2008). Preloaded maps inform the system of the location of stationary items and the Lidar supplying information on moving objects.

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Lidar – Washington Street by landskipper

Even though, the technology is reasonably advanced, driverless cars are only authorized for testing and a handful of states in the United States are considering having or have legislation regarding automated vehicles including California, Nevada and Florida (Automated driving: Legislative and regulatory action – CyberWiki, 2015). No private owners are presently permitted to own nor drive driverless cars. However, according to experts, driverless cars are expected to hit the roads in 2017-2025 (Finnerty, 2016). Thus, driverless cars may be referred to as a disruptive innovation eliminating the need for cars as we know them today – exactly like automobiles eliminated the use of horse and carriage. However, as innovations often infatuates with the promise of improvements and increased efficiency, it does not come without challenges and ethical dilemmas. All, considerations we must reflect upon prior to introducing the innovation into mainstream life.

 

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