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Will there be a day when no human drives a car?

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An illustration of a semiconductor solution that is included in the core components of an autonomous vehicle.
An illustration of a semiconductor solution that is included in the core components of an autonomous vehicle.

Self-driving cars have been the things of science fiction movies for a long time, but will there ever really come a time where there is no longer a need to manually control our cars? Although development and regulation in the area are complicated , there are several factors pointing to the fact that the presence of self-driving cars could contribute to a better world for us all. Autonomous Cars Will Keep Us Safer A 2015 study by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 94% of traffic accidents were caused by ‘critical reasons attributed to drivers.’ The fact is that, as capable and experienced as a human driver might be, they are always susceptible to distractions like cell phones, activity outside the car, and other passengers, as well as a wide range of impairing factors like tiredness and adverse health conditions. With autonomous vehicles being run by analytical systems that include input from sensors, radar, and cameras, the risk of distraction and impaired human function are reduced. Self-driving Cars Will Help the Environment According to UCSUSA (Union of Concerned Scientists USA), transportation accounts for more than half of the carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide pollutants emitted into the atmosphere. Though autonomous driving isn’t set to get cars off the roads altogether, the improved efficiency they offer could be instrumental in reducing emissions. The amount of time cars spend idling in gridlock would likely be drastically reduced because of the deliberative architecture software that allows autonomous vehicles to detect delays and other obstructions ahead of time. Once autonomous vehicles are interconnected and able to communicate with one another, infrastructure like traffic lights should soon become obsolete as well, further improving efficiency. What’s more, if developers continue to follow the trend of making autonomous cars battery-powered, then the autonomous driving sector could indeed prove revolutionarily beneficial for the environment. Self-driving Vehicles Will Make Us More Productive The U.S. Census Bureau says that Americans spend an average of more than 50 minutes commuting to work every day. That is a sizable chunk of the average worker’s day that is largely wasted sitting in traffic or staring out the window. Vehicles that are automated at level three or higher may allow that worker to get a head start on the day’s work or catch up on some much needed sleep. Add to this that the efficiency offered by self-driving vehicles stands to decrease overall commute time as well, and you can’t help but think that the technology is a perfect fit for anyone who has ever complained that “there aren’t enough hours in the day.” How Samsung is Contributing Semiconductor solutions are crucial, foundational components in most of the parts that make autonomous cars run. Samsung’s flagship Exynos processors – the company’s own System-on-Chip (SoC) solution - is a prime example, with its ability to operate up to four domains and displays at once, while providing highly graphical user interfaces. Other components that rely on memory solutions like those being produced by Samsung include the camera and sensor systems, the dashboard, the In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) system, the Advanced Driver Assistant System (ADAS), and the autonomous driving central computing system. Memory solutions even underpin parts as minor as the LED lighting and steering wheels in cars. As autonomous vehicles become smarter and more independent, Samsung’s memory solutions are expected to come increasingly to the fore. Going forward, the company is committed to supplying top-tier performance for safer and more pleasurable driving experiences. What Can We Expect in the Short-Term? Closer to the present, a number of prominent automotive companies are looking to break into providing autonomous transportation services through the platform of ‘ride hailing.’ Autonomous ride hailing services would effectively allow consumers to hail down driverless vehicles to deliver them to locations generally limited to pre-determined areas. Although many companies have now had to extend their roll-out dates for such services, numerous providers are still planning to introduce autonomous ride hailing as early as 2021. Many players are additionally taking steps to expedite advancements in the area. In 2019, a Ford-owned company established Autonomous Vehicle Research Center at Carnegie Mellon University, while General Motors has asked the American Department of Transportation for clearance to develop self-driving cars that lack parts including steering wheels. In 2016, Toyota Research Institute CEO Gill Pratt said he believed it was likely that a number of companies would have level four automated (able to drive without human input almost all the time) vehicles operating in specific areas within a decade. Already, Alphabet Inc.’s subsidiary Waymo has sent out an email to users of its ride-hailing app in Arizona informing them that the next car they call for may well be driverless. Waymo informed its users that, from December 5, 2018, customers hailing rides within a 150km geofenced area covering multiple towns in Phoenix, Arizona would have a chance to be picked up by a driverless vehicle under its new Waymo One service. The company has said that it will still be ‘taking care of’ its users though, and that, initially, a Waymo employee will be present in the vehicle along with the passenger during rides.

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