Autonomous cars have arrived — Uber has fleets in Pittsburgh and San Francisco, Google’s parent company is spinning off its driverless car project in a sign it is closer to coming to market, and the federal government has begun to issue guidelines on how the cars should work.
What the Car Sees
The car’s sensors gather data on nearby objects, like their size and rate of speed. It categorizes the objects — as cyclists, pedestrians or other cars and objects — based on how they are likely to behave.
Self-Driving Features YouMay Have Already Used
Collision avoidance: Radar-, laser-, or camera-based systems that warn of an impending collision. Some systems recognize a person straying into the road. If the driver ignores the warnings, some systems will still apply the brakes.
Drifting warning: When your car begins to deviate from its lane, some systems alert the driver with a warning buzzer, light and small counter-steering force to the steering wheel.
Blind-spot detectors: Uses cameras or radar to detect vehicles in the driver’s blind spot. Alerts the driver with sounds or warning lights in the rearview mirror or in the car’s pillars next to the windshield.
Where You Can Ride in a Self-Driving Car
In September, Uber introduced 100 cars that can drive themselves (although they will all have a driver just in case), making Pittsburgh the first city in which a passenger can hail an autonomous vehicle. On Wednesday, Uber began allowing passengers to use them in San Francisco.
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