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Do driverless cars really exist?  Can we really avoid accidents?  The True of the False Junior

While the Mercedes-Benz automotive group is preparing to market a “Drive Pilot” system, allowing the driver, in a very specific context, to no longer look at the road and let the vehicle decide whichœworks, the teenagers who participate in the Vrai du Faux Junior are wondering about autonomous vehicles. Olivier Lascar answers them. He is editor-in-chief of the digital section of Science et Avenir. It publishes on June 9 Investigation of Elon Musk, the man who defies science (at Alisio Sciences). Elon Musk, boss of Tesla, is positioning himself among other things in this niche of autonomous vehicles.

I heard there was a car that could drive itself. Is it true ? Will we soon be able to sleep on the flyyou?“, asks Calliste.

Yes, it’s true“, replies Olivier Lascar. “There are cars that today drive by themselves. It sounds incredible to say, but it’s even more incredible to see. There are videos that are available on YouTube of vehicles being driven in the United States, in a state called Arizona and in a city called Phoenix. In this city, you can call the car with your mobile phone. The vehicle arrives and there we see that behind the steering wheel, there is nobody, that the steering wheel turns by itself, moves by itself. The car positions itself in front of the person who called it, this person sits in the back seat, the car starts, it enters the traffic, it stops at the traffic light. It respects the signs of signage and it brings this person to their destination“.

The journalist specifies that it is only a question, that being said at this stage, of attempts, very experimental.

“I wonder if in the future we will replace the vehicles of now with autonomous vehicles?”, Leandra asks.

Olivier Lascar replies that there are several degrees in the autonomy of a vehicle. The major car manufacturers have agreed that there are six different levels. “The first levelhe explains, level zero is the one who can’t do anything on her own“. In this case, only the pilot has the power.”The last level is level five. It’s the car that does everything on its own”.

The journalist explains that in this case, in fact, the driver has nothing more to do and could even sleep. “It is for examplehe adds, the dream promised by Elon Musk, boss of Tesla and who makes electric and automated cars. He regularly promises that we will get there and finally, year after year, we still don’t get there”.

On the other hand, we are moving towards cars which, more and more, have a certain degree of autonomy: in capacity, points out the journalist, “to control their speed, to stay strictly in their traffic lanes. There are already cars like that on the market, which you can buy, which will switch to automatic mode, for example, in traffic jams, or which are able to park almost on their own. Olivier Lascar specifies that, even in these cases, the attention of the driver must be permanent, so as to be able to regain control of the vehicle at any time.

How can we avoid accidents with self-driving cars? What are the security measures taken by the manufacturers?“, asks Elea.

This is the key question ” replies Olivier Lascar. “ There have been many accidents involving cars in automated mode and the problem that ultimately arises is the degree of trust placed in these vehicles..

The journalist explains that, at Tesla for example, the automated driving mode is called “the autopilot“, which may suggest that the car is really capable of driving on its own. However, he points out, ” the brand itself, Tesla says that the driver must be able to intervene in driving at any time. When you go into automated mode with a vehicle whose operation is called autopilot, you can be inattentive, react too sluggishly and the drama on the road can occur very quickly..

The journalist adds that, in other circumstances, the question of the performance of the vehicle itself may arise. “An autonomous vehicle that is able to evolve on the road on its ownhe explains, is equipped with sensors, eyes, ears, i.e. cameras, ultrasonic sensors that are able to assess everything around it. Does it work as well as this? Well, some accidents are still being investigated, which casts a kind of veil over the effectiveness of self-driving cars.”

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