California certainly is one of the states leading the way in many ways in the development of autonomous vehicle. Similarly, the car itself is virtually iconic in the state as people on the west coast generally rely on individual transportion over public transportation more than do their counterparts in metropolitan areas on the east coast. As the development of self-criving vehicles escalates, it is important to understand the technology involved and how it can or might actually reduce accidents and keep people safer.
As explained by Curbed, there are mutliple types of sensors required to make an autonomous vehicle operate properly. One of these types is designed to track and identify the size and speed of movement of any object around the vehicle. Other sensors allow cameras to see and read or understand traffic signals and road signs. GPS systems include both software and sensors to plan appropriate routes.
Light detecting and ranging sensors, also called LIDAR, are used to essentially create a fully three-dimensional image or view of the area in which the self-driving car finds itself. All of these sensors are together designed to equip the autonomous vehicle with the ability to avoid collisions.
Scientific American adds that another important element to creating safely operating autonomous vehicles is proper programming. When a self-driving car encounters a situation for which no program has been written, it will not know what to do and may therefore not be able to reliably avoid an accident. This raises the question as to whether or not these vehicles really will or can ever eliminate all crashes.