How do Autonomous cars work?

Autonomous or self-driving cars are a miracle of technology. This technology is possible with the help of thermographic cameras, radar, lidar, sonar, GPS, odometry, and inertial measurement units. When all these things work together in harmony, we get a fantastic car that can drive by itself.

Autonomous Cars
Autonomous Cars

How does a self-driving car drive itself?

With the help of all these sensors that are embedded in the car, Self-Driving cars create an image of the surrounding of its environment. It also uses GPS to understand where does the person sitting in the car wants to go. So first it creates a map of the surroundings and then it uses GPS to move, pretty easy to understand right?

How do these sensors create a map of the surrounding?

Every sensor has its different usage in the car, for instance, Radar sensors monitor the position of nearby vehicles. Video cameras detect every kind of sign and traffic signal. LIDAR is used to measure the distances between different objects and the distance between an object and the car.

Levels of Driving Automation

Driving Automation has been categorized into six categories

  • Level 0 (No automation)- Manual control, no automation at all.
  • Level 1 (Driver Assistance)- A car with one automation system falls in this category. For example- Adaptive Cruise Control.
  • Level 2 (Partial Automation)- Vehicle controls steering and acceleration at the same time. While human controls every other thing.
  • Level 3 (Conditional Automation)- At this level vehicle also starts monitoring the environment, still, human intervention is needed.
  • Level 4 (High Automation)- The vehicle can perform every action but in specified situations. A human can still take over the control of the car.
  • Level 5 (Full Automation)- Final level of automation, can work without no human interaction at all.

The level we have achieved

We have a long road to walk to get to Level 5. Most of the so-called self-driving cars we see today are just Level 2 on the level of automation and barely has anyone received a Level 3 certification.

When will we reach Level 5 automation?

According to experts, we can see a full-fledged production of Level 5 cars by 2030.

How beneficial are these kinds of cars?

There are so many benefits of these cars, and these benefits are the reason people are slowly changing their minds about Self-Driving cars.


  • Reduce traffic congestion (30% fewer vehicles on the road)
  • Cut transportation costs by 40% (in terms of vehicles, fuel, and infrastructure)
  • Improve walkability and livability
  • Free up parking lots for other uses (schools, parks, community centers)
  • Reduce urban CO2 emissions by 80% worldwide

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