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This Is Exactly How Driverless Cars Work

Tesla, Ford and Google are doubling down on driverless car technology... but how does it actually work?

Tesla, Ford and Google are doubling down on driverless car technology… but how does it actually work?

The image above shows in depth analysis of how three kinds of driverless tech works, but if you’d rather read all about it – well, we’ve got that covered, too.



Not confident of that tight- looking parallel park? Ford drivers need worry no more…

Parallel parking can be a pain in the bumper at the best of times, but if Ford’s new Active Park Assist technology is anything to go by, manually attempting to swing your car into those tiny gaps at the side of the road will soon be a thing of the past. Now, the car can take complete control at the crucial time, making computerised inputs to the steering wheel to ensure you achieve a perfect park.

01.) Assessing the task

If the driver wants to park, they simply press the car’s park assist button, which calls ultrasonic sensors into action to judge if the gap is big enough for the car to manoeuvre into

02.) Setting up

If the gap is deemed big enough, the car is automatically put in the best starting position to do the manoeuvre

03.) Steering inputs

As the driver lets go of the wheel, the ECU dials in the necessary steering inputs for the car to ensure a correct trajectory for the car to make the park

04.) Pedal power

The driver still has to control the speed of the car via the foot pedals, so stay alert!



This automatic braking tech keeps you safe on those busy roads…

The hustle and bustle of a city street is an incredibly tough environment to spot potential hazards because there’s simply so many things that you have to look out for. However, manufacturers are installing City Safety technology on vehicles, which monitors the road ahead and, if it is decided the driver will not stop in time to avoid a collision, automatically applies the brakes.

This technology, originally piloted by Volvo, can work at speeds of up to 30mph; perfect for driving in urban areas.

01.) Laser monitoring

While the car is in motion, a laser sensor detects the positioning of other objects in front of the car

02.) Hazards

The hustle and bustle of a busy city means there are plenty of potential hazards in front of a forward moving car

03.) ECU

Meanwhile, the car’s ECU monitors the car’s forward speed as well as its proximity to objects detected by that laser.

04.) Stop!

If the ECU calculates the driver will not avoid an obstacle in time, the car’s brakes are applied automatically, bringing the car to a halt



Could this be the end of tailgating?

Cruise control is fitted to most high-end cars today, in which the driver lets the car’s on-board computer assume responsibility for maintaining a preset speed. This enables the driver to remove their foot from the accelerator pedal. However, the next generation of this technology is adaptive cruise control, where the car automatically adjusts its speed to maintain a specific distance from the vehicle in front.

01.) Setting the function

A driver manually engages adaptive cruise control via a stalk on the steering wheel column

02.) Radar

When adaptive cruise control is selected, a radar mounted to the front of the car constantly pings out signals

03.) The bounce back

These signals bounce back off objects in front, enabling the vehicle to gauge its distance from the car in front

04.) Brake!

If the radar reveals the distance to a car in front is too small, braking is automatically applied to the vehicle so a consistent distance is maintained