There’s a lot of hype surrounding self-driving/autonomous vehicles. Automakers and technology companies are working toward offering various levels of self-driving cars with the goal of being fully autonomous vehicles that require no human intervention. However, for as ambitious as some are about that future just around the corner, the introductory lecture of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Self-Driving Cars series by leading researcher Lex Fridman, explains just how difficult that will be to achieve.
The introductory lecture, available on YouTube with a host of helpful links in the description, is nearly an hour long and covers a range of self-driving topics. The purpose of the lecture is to look at the autonomous industry as it is today and how it’ll advance throughout the coming year. It looks at several companies dabbling in AV R&D such as Tesla, Ford, Waymo, and Cruise Automation, the General Motors AV subsidiary.
One of the more interesting aspects of the lecture is Fridman’s breakdown of the various sensor technology companies are using in their autonomous vehicles. He breaks down the different types of sensors—Lidar, Ultrasonic, Radar, and Passive Visual—and measures various attributes on a spider chart. The chart shows sensor cost, sensor size, range, resolution, proximity detection, color/contrast, whether it works in rain, snow, fog, and more. It’s a great visual to understand the current state of sensors. However, there are still gaps in their effectiveness.
The lecture does get into the weeds a bit, discussing different types of sensors along with the idea of human-centered autonomous vehicles. The talk also looks at how machine learning and artificial intelligence can assist in developing better autonomous vehicles, but only if there’s a large enough data set.
Autonomous vehicles are coming, but they likely won’t be widely available for some time. Industry experts, after years of ambitious goals and hype, are beginning to realize truly self-driving vehicles will take some time to perfect as many people are still leery of the technology, according to a recent study.