Big Data’s Role in Self-Driving Car Development

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Each year, car manufacturers get closer to successfully developing a fully autonomous vehicle. Over the last several years, major tech companies have paired up with car manufacturers to develop the advanced technology that will one day allow the majority of vehicles on the road to be autonomous. Of the five levels of automation, companies like Ford and Tesla are hovering around level three, which offers several autonomous driving functions but still requires a person to be attentive behind the wheel.

However, car manufacturers are expected to release fully automatic vehicles to the public within the next decade. These vehicles are expected to have a large number of safety and environmental benefits. Self-driving technology has come a long way over the last few years, as the growth of big data in technology industries has helped provide car manufacturers with the programming data needed to get closer to fully automating cars. Big data is helping install enough information and deep learning in autonomous cars to make them safer for all drivers.

History of Self-Driving Cars

The first major automation in cars was cruise control, which was patented in 1950 and is now used by most drivers to keep their speed steady during long drives. Most modern cars already have several automated functions, like proximity warnings and steering adjustment, which have been tried and tested, and proven to be valuable features for safe driving. These technologies use sensors to alert the driver when they are coming too close to something that may be out of the driver’s view or something that the driver may simply not have noticed.

The fewer functions drivers have to worry about and pay attention to, the more they’re able to focus on the road in front of them and stay alert to dangerous circumstances that could occur at any moment. Human error causes 90 percent of all crashes on the roads, which is one of the main reasons so many industries support the development of autonomous vehicles. However, even when a driver is completely attentive, circumstances that are out of their control, such as weather or other drivers, could cause them to go off the road or crash into other vehicles. Car manufacturers are still working on the programming for autonomous driving in weather that is less than ideal.

Big Data’s Role in Autonomous Vehicle Development

Although these technologies provided small steps toward automation, they remained milestones away from a fully automated vehicle. However, over the last decade, with the large range of advancements that have been made in technology and the newfound use of big data, tech companies have discovered the necessary programming for fully automating vehicles. Autonomous vehicles rely entirely on the data they receive through GPS, radar and sensor technology, and the information they process through cameras.

The information cars receive through these sources provides them with the data needed to make safe-driving decisions. Although car manufacturers are still using stores of big data to work out the kinks of the thousands of scenarios an autonomous car could find itself in, it’s only a matter of time before self-driving cars transform the automotive industry by making up the majority of cars on the road. As the price of the advanced radars for these vehicles goes down, self-driving cars should become more accessible to the public, which will increase the safety of roads around the world.

Big data is changing industries worldwide, and deep learning is contributing to the progress towards fully autonomous vehicles. Although it will still be several decades before the mass adoption of self-driving cars, the change will slowly but surely come. In only a few decades, we’ll likely be living in a time where cars are a safer form of transportation, and accidents are tragedies that are few and far between.

About the Author

Magnolia Potter is a muggle from the Pacific Northwest who writes from time to time. She covers a variety of topics and prefers not to settle on just one. When Magnolia’s not writing, you can find her in the outdoors or curled up with a good book and a mug of butterbeer. She is still waiting for her Hogwarts acceptance letter. You can chat with her on Twitter @MuggleMagnolia.


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