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Automation has now become more of a reality than a dream as opposed to what it was a few years ago only. We have already seen the arrival of stage 4 automatic cars that can do pretty much everything on their own. Now with further advancement of technology and science, we are moving forward to have fully automated cars in the UAE soon. The USA has already rolled out some beta models of fully automated self-driving cars and Dubai is going to be the second city in the world to have these models released soon. Let’s know more about the future strategies and potential features of fully automated cars that may soon be seen cruising out in the streets of Dubai.
These two terms are often used interchangeably but they hold quite different meanings when it comes to technicalities. A self-driving car, the one that we have now, is capable of driving itself partially. The level of autonomy these cars have, differ according to the features they come with. But no matter the stage of autonomy, a human passenger-driver is always needed in the self-driving cars to resume control when required. This means that these cars can perform driving functions on their own but require supervision of several degrees.
Fully automated cars are essentially cars that would not require any human supervision when driving. The AI of the car will resume complete control and proceed with taking care of all the functions on its own. So here, if you command your car to drive you to the grocery store, it will take the order and start the journey on its own depending on the route selected on the map. These cars will be capable of assessing all conditions on the route and opt for the most optimal one.
An autonomous car, often mistaken as an auto-drive car, are one level ahead of all that we already have in the market or are planning to get soon. Autonomous cars can be described as fully automatic cars with a consciousness. For example, if you ask an automated car to drive you to school, it will simply take the order and begin on the said task. An autonomous car, however, will have consciousness too and may simply decide not to accept the order, much like human beings. So, an autonomous car can be seen as an auto-drive car capable of making its own decisions rather than simply performing the ordered task.
A car that requires no human assistance at all and can drive itself would have multiple sets of cameras and sensors for one. The sensors and cameras would be used to create a holographic 3D map in the AI of the car to help it remember routes and figure out the objects in way and sight. This can include any mundane object on the sidewalk to important ones like traffic lights and pedestrian crossings. In short, a fully automated car would be able to do anything a human driver does when driving, mapping the distance, figuring out the road edges, and even identify lane markings. All this information related to the surroundings will then be sent to the actuators of the car that control acceleration and steering wheel functions. Combining all these elements, you would have a fully functioning self-driving car on your hands.
Just like with human drivers, automatic cars with Artificial Intelligence as their drivers also come with their own set of challenges. Following are a few potential challenges that Dubai may face when fully automated vehicles are finally rolled out on the roads:
While the fully automatic self-driving cars will be able to assess the weather conditions and drive accordingly, will extreme weather conditions be something they can handle though? Light rains or storms are said to be manageable but the Gulf region is susceptible to sandstorms, landslides and many such extreme weather conditions. The complete self-driving system of auto-drive cars may not work ideally when faced with weather’s unpredictability.
Even with the arrival of fully automated self-driving cars and vehicles in the market, many people will still be driving conventional cars that require human drivers. This may give birth to the need for new and improved traffic laws to accommodate both conventional and automatic vehicles on the road safely.
It is claimed that fully automated self-driving cars would end up saving a lot of cost in terms of human labour, fuel and time. However, the scenario will be quite the opposite for the first few years at least. The Lidar and Radar technologies used in fully automatic cars are exceptionally expensive as of now. If the price ever goes down in the future, the situation may get better cost-wise.
The biggest question that has been troubling everyone with the onset of the arrival of completely self-driving cars is who will be liable for the accidents if they happen and how will auto-drive car insurance work. The decision of driver taking the liability when accidents happen with automatic cars with Stage 4 automation handled the situation for now. It was possible since it is recommended for the drivers to be present in the car and monitor it at all times. However, since fully autonomous cars would not come with any such condition, the insurance liability game can take a huge hit and may require a lot of discussions and changes.
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The government of UAE has planned to roll out 4000 self-driving cars by 2030 in Dubai. The overall idea is to make at least 25% of the public transportation system completely autonomous by 2030. The strategy also includes a plan to cut transportation costs of the city by AED 900 million by the year 2030. Adding an environmental angle to the situation, this change is also expected to bring down environmental pollution by at least 12%. There is news of a huge partnership of Dubai with Volocopter to develop flying taxis as well. All in all, the complete picture of the plans and strategies to introduce autonomous vehicles in the UAE seems very promising.
Fully automated cars are yet to become an everyday reality for us but the day is not far when we see driverless cars cruising in the city as something very normal. Curiosity knows no bounds and so doesn’t the need to evolve. This is why we can safely expect new and exciting automation technologies to turn up and surprise us in the most pleasant ways. Whatever the future holds, it will be awe-inspiring, to say the least.