The 5 Biggest Challenges of Self-Driving Cars

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Big Data

Much like the data that is produced for other computer systems, that generated by self-driving cars is massive. A single car may produce 4 TB per hour of data! This huge amount of data has to be processed in real-time and immediately used before it becomes obsolete. To make matters more complicated, this data has to be securely transmitted over a network and stored in the cloud or on another storage system.


If you’ve ever tried to park your car in a busy parking lot or drive down a heavily congested street, you know just how challenging it can be to predict what other drivers are going to do. That’s bad enough for humans, but for autonomous vehicles, it poses a major challenge. One of the key components of self-driving cars is the ability of the AI system to interpret data from the vehicle’s sensors and cameras and infer what’s happening around them.

AI systems will need to be able to detect and react not only to other vehicles but also pedestrians, animals, road signs, traffic signals and more. If a driver suddenly cuts across three lanes of traffic without signaling in order to exit onto an off-ramp they haven’t signaled for either, will the AI be able to process those actions quickly enough? If someone decides that parking their car on top of the white line separating two spaces is preferable than actually parking between them, will the AI notice? How about if someone pulls out into traffic without looking or if an animal or child darts out into an intersection?


Some of the biggest questions surrounding AI ethics have to do with self-driving cars. These vehicles are being developed by many different manufacturers, and we can be sure that they will eventually hit our roads. New technology comes with a host of new ethical dilemmas, though, and we need to prepare for those.

Imagine yourself driving down the road in your car. You see a pedestrian on the side of the road up ahead, and you slow down as you approach them. As you get closer, though, your car determines that there is insufficient stopping distance between you and the pedestrian—a collision is imminent unless it takes action!

What happens next? Does your car drive straight into the pedestrian? Swerve wildly into oncoming traffic? Or does it prioritize your safety over others’ by swerving onto the sidewalk or even off a cliff?

This question highlights one of the biggest issues facing self-driving cars: how do we program them to make “moral” decisions in scenarios where there is no right answer?

The law

Let’s say you get into a self-driving car accident. Who’s responsible? The driver, the passenger, the owner of the self-driving car, or the manufacturer of the self-driving car? None of them. According to U.S. law, a vehicle assumes “legal personhood” when its engine is started, so it must be held accountable for any infractions, accidents or violations that happen while it is operating on public roads and highways.

That’s why self-driving cars can be held liable if they were negligent or reckless when they caused an accident, but passengers aren’t allowed to control them while they are in motion — that would put liability on the human driver instead of on the vehicle itself.

For now, laws covering self-driving cars have focused mostly on consumer protections like requiring manufacturers to clearly disclose all safety features and limitations; improving cybersecurity; and ensuring that drivers are not distracted by entertainment devices that only work when their vehicles are parked safely out of traffic flow.

Human error

You. Human beings are complicated, and it’s pretty much a given that we make mistakes. Because of our fallibility, we’re forced to address the human factor in self-driving car design as well as in regulation of this technology.

Unlike humans, AI can think faster than a human but does not have personal biases that can be detrimental to performance and efficiency (in theory). This is an advantage to using artificial intelligence because it makes for more consistent behavior on the road, so all cars are following the rules of the road in exactly the same way at all times. As a result, self-driving cars theoretically won’t be impacted by human emotions or bias while driving.

Self-driving cars have many potential benefits, but the technology is still in its infancy.

Self-driving cars are still in their infancy, so there are many areas where the technology has yet to improve.

  • Driving in bad weather.
  • The costs of self-driving vehicles.
  • Car connectivity and cybersecurity risks.
  • Driving on unmarked roads.
  • The legal issues surrounding self-driving cars

The future is here! Self-driving cars are all over the news, and it’s easy to get swept up in the hype. But when you look a little deeper, you start to wonder: do self-driving cars really have what it takes to make it?

We took a look at the biggest challenges facing self-driving cars, and what needs to be done to overcome them. Take a look at our take on the 5 biggest challenges of self-driving cars:

1. The technology isn’t there yet.

Self-driving cars are the future! And they’re already here!

Well, sort of. While we’ve been hearing about them for years and seeing prototypes on the road, they’re still a little further away than we thought they’d be. And that’s because there are major challenges to making this technology work.

Here are 5 of the biggest challenges the self-driving car industry is tackling right now:

1. Maintaining sensors

2. Overcoming human disturbance

3. Handling traffic lights

4. Negotiating unexpected situations

5. Legal matters

Self-driving cars are the future. They’re also very much in their infancy.

As we all know, a baby can be cute and fun… but they can also be a tiny little monster who makes your life miserable. Self-driving cars are kind of like that: there’s still a lot of development to do before they’ll be ready for prime time, and the current challenges indicate some very interesting obstacles to overcome.

1. The weather

One of the biggest challenges facing self-driving cars is the weather—specifically, how these cars will react to snow and ice. This is because many self-driving cars use LIDAR technology, which is essentially radar that uses lasers instead of radio waves. These lasers bounce off surfaces (pavement, walls, other cars), providing the car with a sort of 3D map of its surroundings.

However, snow and ice absorb laser light rather than reflecting it, making these vehicles blind in inclement weather conditions. This is why you don’t see self-driving cars in Alaska or Minnesota just yet—they are not equipped to handle such icy temperatures!

2. The road

The regulations surrounding the use of self-driving vehicles vary wildly from state to state and country to country—that is if

Autonomous vehicles are a hot topic. Many companies and engineers are putting their grit and ingenuity behind making them a reality, but it’s not going to be an easy road. There are some major challenges they’ll have to overcome before they’re ready for public use—here are five of the biggest.

1) Vehicle-to-vehicle communication

This one will probably be the hardest. Self-driving cars need to be able to communicate with each other and with nearby sensors in order to navigate traffic safely, which means they’ll need some sort of wireless system that can take over in times of emergency, or even as a way of warning drivers about upcoming dangers and obstacles. This is going to require an enormous amount of work on behalf of programmers and engineers from all over the world—it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight!

2) Driving infrastructure

We’ve got a long way to go on this one, too. We don’t have enough roadways for everyone who drives now; we definitely won’t have enough if everyone has their own self-driving car! Plus, there are plenty of areas that these vehicles aren’t designed to drive in yet—the roads might not even be paved! We’ll also need dedicated lanes for parking and charging stations

People have been dreaming about self-driving cars for a long time. They’re a fun concept, and they’re likely to be a significant part of our future. But we’re not there yet. We’re still in the early stages of self-driving car development, and there are some big challenges ahead.

Here are the top 5 challenges we’ll need to overcome before we can all hop in our cars, press a button that says “go,” and take a snooze until we get to the park.

1. Self-driving cars can’t interpret human behavior very well yet

2. Self-driving cars have trouble with changing road conditions

3. Self-driving cars struggle on unlit roads

4. Self-driving cars don’t automatically know what’s happening on side streets

5. Self-driving cars aren’t prepared for emergency braking

We’re getting closer and closer to a future where self-driving cars are the norm, but we aren’t there yet.

There are still plenty of challenges to overcome before we can truly enjoy a hands-free car ride. Here are the big ones—and how companies like [company name] are working to fix them:

1. They’re far too expensive.

Self-driving cars are currently very costly, which makes investing in them difficult for most people—and since they don’t work everywhere yet, it means that you can’t utilize a self-driving car as your only vehicle. But this is a problem that’s being solved by [company name], which is trying to make self-driving cars more approachable and affordable.

2. They struggle with bad weather conditions.

Weather conditions like snow and fog can really throw self-driving cars for a loop, making them harder to navigate and causing potential safety issues for drivers and pedestrians alike. But at [company name], we’re making sure our technology is tested in all types of weather so that you never have to worry about whether you can get where you need to go safely.

3. They can’t handle certain road conditions.

Self-driving cars can be thrown off by things

Welcome to your future, where you and your family can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

That is, until your self-driving car gets into a collision in which it’s at fault. Or you get stuck in the middle of an interstate with a dead battery. Or you’re late for an important meeting because the car couldn’t find a parking space anywhere close to the building.

The truth is that we’re still not quite there when it comes to self-driving cars. There are still some kinks to be worked out. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Liability: When accidents happen, who pays? Who’s responsible? These questions are still being worked out, but chances are that if your car is driving itself, the manufacturer will be held liable—which means those insurance payments could get pretty steep for all of us if this technology really does take off.

2. Battery Life: The more computers and sensors you have going in a car, the more power it uses up. Self-driving cars are going to need a lot more power than most vehicles currently have available (which means you’re going to be stopping for gas or charging way more often), and there aren’t yet any systems in place for getting

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