Breaking Down the Operation of Self-Driving Cars

 Breaking Down the Operation of Self-Driving Cars

Self-driving vehicles or autonomous vehicles can sense the obstacles and surroundings to operate by themselves, without any human intervention. There are levels of autonomous driving. The degrees indicate if the cars can drive on the road without a person or not. Self-driving cars are not a thing of the past. It's the future, but it is yet to come because full automation is not polished enough to make them reliable. However, the technological breakthrough is quite remarkable. The combination of hardware and software in a car enables it to drive without a human. I will make you understand how a self-driving car works in the simplest way I can. Let's jump right into it!


Cameras are by far the most crucial hardware piece for a self-driving car. Cameras capture the photos and videos of the surroundings of the road to pinpoint the car's location. This procedure allows the car to avoid any pedestrians on the road or small obstacles. The image processor in the car uses algorithms to interpret the images. Tesla, Ford, Porsche, and many other companies use many cameras around their cars to see everything around the cars.

LiDAR Sensor

LiDAR or Light Detection and Ranging is a sensor that uses light rays to determine obstacles and the environment. LiDAR captures light to make a high-resolution 3D image of the surroundings to see subjects around the car. However, LiDAR is not fully operational in low light conditions. It also cannot detect traffic signs correctly.


Radar is very common in self-driving cars because of its reliability to detect the range, speed, and distance of objects. Radar uses radio waves to calculate the distance between the obstacles. Radar cannot operate properly if the objects are too small, like cycles, trollies, etc.

GPS & Microphones

GPS uses satellite processed images to understand the road map. So, when self-driving cars use GPS, they know which turns to take and which road has the lowest traffic. Microphones pick up the sounds of other vehicles to locate their position.

AI & Machine Learning

AI or Artificial Intelligence uses computational power to simulate human-like intelligence. Autonomous vehicles use AI to make sound decisions to set the course, speed, and much more. Algorithms and neural networks process the images and data from the hardware to intercept any complications. Machine learning can recognize objects' structures and shapes. Then, it compiles and interprets those data to make decisions.
Self-driving cars unify software and hardware to turn an impossible task into reality. The engineering and technology of autonomous cars is truly a scientific breakthrough. In the future, self-driving cars will be more reliable than humans, and we look forward to it.

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