About Autonomous Vehicles

About Autonomous Vehicles

  • Autonomous vehicles are mostly light motor vehicles like cars with highest level of automation.
  • They can drive without a human driver and thus called self-driving cars.


Basic architecture of Autonomous vehiclesSense-plan-act architecture


  • Sensors
    • In order to sense the environment, they use a network of sensors including cameras, radars, infrared, Lidar (light detection and ranging) etc.
  • Navigation
    • Further a combination of GPS and inertial navigation system is used to know the position of the self-driving car and any object around it. (obstacles)
  • Communication systems
    • The autonomous cars basically use vehicle to vehicle technology/ vehicle to infrastructure technology to communicate with the objects in the environment like traffic light, parking sign, a railway crossing or other sign boards.


  • AI-based data processing
    • Once the sensors and other communication systems collects the data, the vehicles use AI-based processing of the data to make sense of it. (perceive the data)
  • Control
    • Once AI-based processing of data is done, the electronic control systems tell the car whether to slow down, speed up, stop etc.


  • Actuators
    • Actuators are electro-mechanical systems that run the car.
    • The decisions of the controllers are translated into actions with the help of actuators.



  • Reliability
    • The autonomous vehicles are effective in certain driving conditions but fail in many. (Eg. Snow covered roads, heavy traffic roads, narrow roads)
  • Infrastructure migration
    • Vehicle to infrastructure technology is important for communication with objects like traffic signal, parking lots, sign boards etc.
    • As a result the infrastructure in the environment has to be upgraded which is both cost and time intensive.
  • Safety
    • The failure of any system in the sense-plan-act architecture may lead to accidents affecting the public safety.
  • Acceptance
    • Self-driving cars are still at the nascent stage and thus has no societal and consumer acceptance
  • Legal and regulatory standards
    • Before we migrate into autonomous vehicles, stric legal and regulatory standards should be place.
    • Designing appropriate legislations is a challenge given the complexity of systems used in these cars.
  • Privacy and litigation risks
Section : Science & Tech