Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Self Driving Cars and Regular Cars

As much as the idea of driverless cars frightens some of us, it may spell the birth of a new disruptive technology that can re-shape the future for good. May be people are scared of the things they don’t understand but this is something beyond us. Who would have thought the everyday car is about to evolve into a self-guided, autonomous car! For nearly a century, the human-driven cars have shaped our lives. Now it’s time to go driverless. Soon, you can pick your own car but you won’t be driving it. Imagine a billion cars that roam the roads were magically transformed into driverless vehicles and all of a sudden there is order on the roads – no more honking, no more traffic, and no more chaos.

An autonomous car, or a self-driving car, as the name suggests, is a vehicle that drives itself with little or no help from a human driver. Well, the idea of self-driving cars is not new; it’s hundreds years old. Around 1478, the legendary artist and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci presented in idea for a self-propelled cart that could move without being pushed. He never actually built the model though. In 2004, some engineers in Florence, Italy, built a driverless cart based on Leaonardo’s idea. Now, we are soon to enter an ear of driverless cars. But are autonomous cars a good idea? Or are they safe compared to regular cars? Let’s take a look at some notable differences between the autonomous cars and the regular cars.


What is Self-Driving Cars?

Self-driving cars, also known as driverless or autonomous cars, are vehicles that drive themselves with little or no human intervention. The driverless cars have higher levels of automation and are capable of sensing their environment and moving with no human drivers required. They combine sensors and software to move through the road. They would not rely on external elements such as radio controls, magnetic strips, or other sensors on the road. Sensors help with the car’s position on the road and in relation to other objects. Processing systems help the car move around objects and make decisions about speed and direction. And the reactive systems take appropriate actions based on those conditions. These sensors along with software programs together help the car navigate the roads and avoid obstacles.


What is Regular Cars?

Regular cars are pretty much the everyday cars that are mainly monitored by humans sitting behind the steering wheel. The standard automotive platform of the regular cars we drive everyday has not changed significantly since its introduction nearly 100 years ago. In regular cars, the human driver does all the tasks from navigating to operating the vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration organizes all vehicles into five different levels of autonomy. The Level Zero refers to completely human-driven cars with no level of automation. The driver is responsible for all the tasks from steering, braking to gear-shifting. The Level One vehicles are the most common category of vehicles that come with some level of automation such as electronic stability control (ESC), blind spot detection, antilock brake systems (ABS), etc.


Difference between Self-Driving Cars and Regular Cars

  1. Terminology 

– Regular cars are the everyday human-driven cars that roam the world’s roads. A regular car requires a human driver sitting behind the steering wheel and doing all the tasks from steering to navigating to gear-shifting. On the contrary, driverless cars or autonomous cars are vehicles that pretty much drive themselves with little or no human intervention. Self-drive cars are capable of sensing their environment and moving with no human drivers required.

  1. Technology Built in Self-Driving vs Regular Cars

– Self-driving cars would not rely on external elements such as radio controls, magnetic strips, or other sensors on the road. In fact, they use their own sensing systems and software programs to navigate the roads in relation to other objects while avoiding obstacles at the same time. Artificial Intelligence (AI) software plays a major role in the functioning of self-driving cars, allowing them to make calculated decisions about steering and braking. Regular cars are human-driven cars with some level of automation that would assist the driver in navigating the roads.

  1. Autonomy 

– There are five basic levels of autonomy in cars as classified by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The Level Zero refers to zero automation where all aspects of driving are in the driver’s hands, whereas the Level One requires a little driver assistance while leveraging the built-in capabilities of the vehicle to navigate. The Level Two means partial automation where two or more automated functions work together to take the control off the driver. The Level Three, Four, and Five refer to conditional automation, high automation, and complete automation respectively. The Level Five indicates a true self-driving car where the vehicle performs all the functions of driving to navigating.

  1. Safety in Self-Driving vs Regular Cars

– Self-driving cars aim to eliminate the human drive error, responding effectively to physical hazards such as potholes, herd of school children, delineated roads, obstacles, etc. They are designed to serve people and save lives by significantly reducing the epidemic of traffic incidents and fatalities. As most of the road deaths are blamed on human error, self-driving cars, with the help of AI, will account for the best on-road experience. No human intervention means less or no mistakes on the road, which account for a safe driving experience.

Self-Driving vs. Regular Cars: Comparison Chart


Summary of  Self-Driving vs Regular Cars

Self-driving cars aim to serve people and save lives by significantly reducing the epidemic of traffic incidents and fatalities. Driverless cars have the potential to improve both speed and safety on the road well beyond what regular cars with human drivers can accomplish. However, the dream of a true driverless car is still a part of the distant future. Well, when they come, there will be order on the roads. We are soon to enter into an era of driverless cars, but for now, let’s get the most of what we have. Until then, human-driven cars are still a long way to go.


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References :

[0] Lipson, Hod and Melba Kurman. Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2016. Print

[1]Newman, Lauren. Self-Driving Cars. Minnesota: Cherry Lake Publishing, 2017. Print

[2]Image credit: https://pixabay.com/es/photos/coche-mustang-veh%C3%ADculo-ford-1081742/

[3]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Self-Driving_Car_Yandex.Taxi.jpg

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