How Do Self-Driving Cars Actually Work?

Imagine that you driving on the road and all of a sudden a big SUV cuts you off. There is no warning and could have got into a bad accident, while you where too busy to read your news feed to notice and rather than giving a bad driver a horn or middle finger, your automated car might just send the strongly worded letter of 1’s to 0’s to offending vehicle.

Its crazy to think about, but the future is now. After years of hard work and research, we are finally on the brink of new revolutionary form of transportation.

Self-Driving Cars

Software and Hardware

Self driving cars are equipped with state of the art software’s to make sure they function as best as possible without human intervention. After many years of testing the cars use top of the line laser based radar system called Lidar.



Lidar short for light detection and Ranging function intend of the state of the art GPS and Internal Measurement Unit Sensor or IMU to pin point the location of the car down to quarter of an inch.
An additional radar control will kick in whenever an obstacle come within about 15 to 30 feet of the vehicle.

These sensor exit to keep the car running and keep you safe but in order to be convenient and efficient, the car’s brain uses the deep learning technology to review cameras and GPS data to predict the fastest route to your destination. With special algorithm always running between the computerized parts in and around the car’s engine the vehicle can also calculate the probability of actions to be taken by other drivers in the chance of natural occurrences as you speed down the road.

That said, it would be a long time before fully autonomous cars are available for public consumption and even then the human passenger remain to stay somewhat alert, in case the car has sensory or technical difficulties.


One of the biggest perk of this technology is that considering the service it offer is not too expensive. In a standard self driving automobile the extra sensitive GPS needed for these cars which will utilize Internal Altimeters , Gyroscope and Tachometers for accuracy ranges between $80 to $6000. Video Camera Mounted on the roof can range between $125 to $200. Radar Sensors on the bumpers reach a combine total of around $150.

The lightor device siting/mounted on top of the car is the most expansive, costing almost $8000 and central computer that starts, steers and stop the car can average three time the sensor cost. As calculated by Boston Consulting Group, car that need to put on the autopilot mode would reach an extra 5,500 more than the asking price and $10,000 to machinery go entirely driver-less.

Safety and Communication Features

To make sure you boss’s Robo car and your neighbors 1995 corolla are able to share the road in perfect harmony, Government Agencies like the NHTSA has stepped in. They are analyzing the data to see what road way prep is needed for self driving cars being debut and with their new suggestions and regulations certain futuristic features may already been included in the car on your drive way. Now a days Many new model include rear mounted back up cameras and as a May 1st 2018 this is the required feature by the NHTSA. According to the administration, they believe, this development will annually save 70 additional lives annually. Ford collision avoidance is another requirement and whether you noticed it or not its been in several different makes and models since 2003.

This helpful feature applies extra pressure to the brakes when car is approaching an obstacle at high speed. There is still a bigger computerized factor in our daily commutes and that is lane selection.
Some cars currently on the road has computerized autopilot on the stand by it kicks in when human driver isn’t moving fast enough and car need to swerve into a new lane and the researchers believe the next level in road safety whether car is fully driver-less or not rely on the type of vehicle to vehicle communication. This way cars, regardless of the way they have made, would have some universal set of signals that can be transmitted to avoid accident and keep the computer safe.

Car Companies

But who is involved in making this happen? Well everybody, once upon a time our nation was facing upon against the USSR in a bitter space race. Now, Silicone Valley is timming up with car companies in a competition to come up with the most bankable self-driving car, it a what you called a race race.

Tesla believes that have the model ready to hit the pavement by 2018 rather the department of transportation is ready for them or not, Google, Toyota, Honda and Nissan think that they would be ready by 2020. With Google’s prototype already have logged 1.8 million miles as drives in July 2016, now known as Waymo Google self driving car project unleashed a fleet of a hundred modified Chrysler mini vans with empty driver seats throughout the streets of Phoenix Arizona.

Volvo, on the other hand, not only expects to have driver-less cars on a market by 2020, they go so far by saying that, there version would be death-proof. Rapping 81% car accidents caused by human error alone, but the Swedish car manufacturer, expects there car to reach a full 100% accident survival rate.

Thanks to their hard work and manufacturing material and steep testing regulations. Volvo is known for their high safety standards, but their XC90 Model is a precursor to the upcoming fully driver less models and that cars key component are going to be expanded upon going forward. First, it has an ultra thin steel frame, that is 5 times more powerful than aluminium. This, along with the new placement of the car engine gives the car stronger support and lower center of gravity to protect the passengers. When paved with smart self driving technology that can stand the right side of the road without lanes.


The auto industry has been moving in this direction for a long time but it is still a controversial idea.

On the positive, the most important is the increase in road safety and easing up drivers daily commutes. Since vehicle would no longer need to rely on human operation, they can likely move at faster speeds avoiding traffic and simplifying parking, although the general shapes of cars as we know might eventually change into a form that is totally unrecognizable.

Health Care Benefits

In terms of health care, experts argue that the decrease in accidents would cause raising medical cost to shrink according to the US department of transportation. Every human on the road has same value $9.2 million. It is always a little cold to reduce life to a number, yet multiply that by amount of people injured in accident each year and you see the physical and financial lose that accident can cost the country each year. On the more positive note, disable individuals and elderly often need to use trains or buses to travel from place to place. With the car at disposal can give them much more time and freedom to go where they want to go and do what they wanna do.

Lesser Driver Responsibilities

When humans are not 100% responsible for driving, speeding charges will go down then police can spend more time focusing on matters, impacting the community and two other issues would be dealt with, involving the DMV and insurance companies. With less drivers on the road, that means less of the line at the department of motor vehicles and less of the need for car insurance.

As proposes, “Car Insurance may become extinct since eventually the computer will be making all the decisions. Perhaps the premium will be paid by the car manufacturer instead of the driver.” For each pro here is some of the shady cons to be worried about.


Some experts warned that with the increased energy needed to power the additional devices on board, increase fuel emissions could lead to more pollution. The government transportation department need to come up with new regulations and licensing to make sure there is an international standards for these cars and that doesn’t even account for the simple, technical concern that impacts all of our computer tablets and cell phones.

Chances of Hacking

What if our car gets a virus or someone hacked into the new Ford updates, can they mess with the GPS? Could they control the direction in which the person’s car is traveling? Could they track someone’s location in real time? Those prospects can seems very scary, there is a lot we don’t know while looking ahead, yet we learned from terminator franchise that the future is not set, there is no fate, but what we make for ourselves.

Financial experts at Forbes says that the safety benefits of computerized car can give $642 billion per year back to the US, economy alone. Despite the unknowns, self driving cars just might actually works to solve a problem, but we won’t know for sure until we see them all in action, until then, full speed ahead!

Amir Saeed

Passionate about cars, love to ride muscle cars in particular. I am big fan of old and classic cars of various decades.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.