Driverless cars

By Sam Pittard, Xavier Brun, Noa Case Tenten and Charlotte Munro

Introduction

The term ‘driverless’ refers to all vehicles which have higher levels of automation, beginning at the point where a driver may not need their hands on the steering wheel, but is ready to take over control, right through to where a vehicle doesn’t need a driver and may not even have a steering wheel. As technology evolves, driverless cars will continue to use a variety of technologies to monitor their surroundings, such as radar, laser light, GPS, and computer vision. 

 

For our project, we were asked to find a solution to make driverless cars safe for everyone and environmentally friendly. We want people to be able to feel safe and secure when in these cars. Also, we don’t want the environment to be damaged by the cars. Right now, the cars are prone to crashing and all companies that have produced driverless cars have at least experienced 1 death. With the environmental part of the cars, they so far have no ideas to reduce or stop the environment cost to these driverless cars.   

The current technology being used by car companies is not the safest possible and it is also not very environmentally friendly. Not only does the technology within the car need to be changed but also our world needs to build better roads and infrastructure to support these vehicles. By improving our current roads and infrastructure to support driverless cars, we can make travel from A to B safer and environmentally friendly. This is because driverless cars run on electricity to run rather than fuel, which adds greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. If the roads became only driverless it may be safer as all the cars could communicate eradicating human error. 

Problems

Technology

Driverless cars have sensors and cameras surrounding the car to make sure it can travel safely to its destination. These cars use cameras, ultrasonic sensors and LIDAR sensors in collaboration with each other to create a secure, safe vehicle.  However these sensors can’t work as well in harsh weather such as snow and hail. 

 

Cameras allow the car to identify objects that are within proximity of the vehicle. This identification of the object helps the car come up with a plan on how to react to the interference, this could be braking, stopping, veering, etc. Although cameras have flaws as they can be interfered with by things such as rain, hail, fog, etc. 

The car will also have ultrasonic sound sensors used to detect the distance of objects. Ultrasonic sensors work by sending out sound at a high frequency (that humans can’t hear) at measure the time it takes to reflect off an object and get back to the sensor. The time it takes for the sound to travel can be converted into an accurate measurement on how far away the object is. Benefits of ultrasonic sensors is that they pass through water, meaning rain would not effect, and it has a much higher range of testing than a camera. 

The car will also feature a LIDAR sensor system. LIDAR sensors works by emitting pulse light waves into its surroundings, once these pulses return to the sensors, the car can create an accurate 3D model of the area around it. This sensor can be used to help the car determine the position of other cars that aren’t driverless and aren’t connected to the satellite system.

Safety

A major problem related to the driverless cars is that they won’t have enough experience of road rules. Companies are trying to film roads and showing this to cars so they get an understanding. However they can’t film every car crash, and every fallen tree. As well as cars not able to show the same signals as humans, such as you go first or i’m stopping. Driverless cars are just robots and they can’t feel and act like humans.

Environment

Most cars in our economy aren’t environmentally friendly.  A survey done showed that if possible people would prefer to buy eco friendly cars as not to ruin our world. Due to this companies are trying to find ways to produce environmentally friendly ways to make cars. With driverless cars companies hope sell them all around the world and so to protect our world companies are trying to make eco friendly cars. This will benefit the whole world in the long run. However there are problems with how to make the driverless cars more environmentally friendly than other cars.

Solutions

Technology

To over come the issue of harsh weather (such as snow) stopping the sensors working as well we will have a new sensor on the car. This sensor will override all other sensors and will make sure the car will avoid all big piles of snow. It also will cancel out all snow the other sensors will see so they can focus on their jobs.

Safety

To make the vehicles more safe we will connect the cars through orbital satellite. Each car would have a receiver and a transmitter to receive and connect to the other cars. To keep the car safe and detect real time threats from objects other than cars. These other objects could include pedestrians crossing the street, fallen trees, animals, or other obstructions.  For example if a car finds a tree that has fallen over it will send a message to all cars in the area to warn them to stay away from that road.

Enviromental

From our research, we have found that the most cost effective and environmentally friendly is the Graphene-based battery as a replacement for the commonly used lithium-ion batteries.  Graphene-based batteries are being actively researched for many commercial applications. The improved performance and life cycle advantages when developing graphene-based batteries over traditional metal-ion batteries are well worth the resource investment. Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors provides a famous example of innovative companies actively pursuing graphene battery research and commercialisation. 

Advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) are now used for nearly every new vehicle design. AHSS make up as much as 60% of today’s vehicles body structures making lighter, optimised vehicle designs that enhance safety and improve fuel efficiency. Steel is one of the few alloys which is almost 95% recyclable (excluding the 5% in scrap contamination) This ensures a long-life cycle for steel products in the global economy, which ranges from the first-time use of steel to multiple recycling rounds that obsolete steel scrap can go through. Steel has a long-life cycle backed by its physical properties, which enables it one of the highest recovery rates among all recycled metals and alloys globally. Steel seems to be the appropriate choice in the manufacturing of environmentally friendly cars and it’s high relative strength makes it a safer option if the car were to be in an accident.