Over 20 countries around the world have adopted the trend are using autonomous vehicles and are trying all their possible best to make such vehicles more human independent as possible.
What is an Autonomous Vehicle
An autonomous vehicle (AVs) is a vehicle capable of sensing its environment and operating without human involvement. It is also called driverless vehicles. It is capable of guiding itself without human conduction.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) currently defines 6 levels of driving automation ranging from Level 0 (fully manual i.e all driving activity are done by the human driver) to Level 5 (fully autonomous i.e all driving task a performed by the vehicles with no human interaction). These levels have been adopted by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
How do Autonomous Vehicles Work?
Autonomous vehicles rely on sensors, actuators, complex algorithms, machine learning systems, and powerful processors to execute software.
Autonomous vehicles create and maintain a map of their surroundings based on a variety of sensors situated in different parts of the vehicle. Radar sensors monitor the position of nearby vehicles. Video cameras detect traffic lights, read road signs, track other vehicles, and look for pedestrians. Lidar (light detection and ranging) sensors bounce pulses of light off the vehicle’s surroundings to measure distances, detect road edges, and identify lane markings. Ultrasonic sensors in the wheels detect curbs and other vehicles when parking.
Sophisticated software then processes all this sensory input, plots a path, and sends instructions to the vehicle’s actuators, which control acceleration, braking, and steering. Hard-coded rules, obstacle avoidance algorithms, predictive modeling, and object recognition help the software follow traffic rules and navigate obstacles.
Why Autonomous vehicles are not in use in Nigeria as at now
Now the big question is why autonomous vehicles are not used in Nigeria as at now. Although AVs are expensive we cannot say we are not having autonomous vehicles in Nigeria because of the cost of the vehicles because I have seen some of the most expensive cars in the country.
The main reason we don’t have autonomous vehicles in the country is that we lack the resources to power AVs. Below are the infrastructures the country has to put in place before AVs can work in the country.
- Good Road network: Yes for AVs to work in Nigeria, we must have a good road network. Our road lack clear road marking and road signals. Clear road marking enables AVs to detect road edges. Apart from the state of our roads, Nigeria also has a large number of unpredictable obstacles for drivers to navigate. From taxis to bike, to pedestrians who can cross the road at any convenient time, and even livestock that can run close to the road, there are many obstacles which would confuse self-driving cars.
- Good traffic light: Nigeria is still practicing the culture of using traffic wardens to control traffic in road intersections instead of traffic lights. AVs make use of special traffic lights. Without traffic light, it would be impossible for AVs to know when to stop or move at an intersection.
- Electricity: Most AVs are powered by electricity. Sadly stable electric power is still a major issue in the country. For AVs to work well in the country, there must be a solution to the electric instability and charging stations for the vehicles’ batteries must be constructed for energy refills.
Philemon Zongo the Co-Founder & Director at Cyber Leadership Institute make this comment in his LinkedIn account “But unless the endemic corruption is weeded out, and regulations tightened, the prospect of fully autonomous cars ferrying passengers across African cities may remain a myth”.
I strongly believe that without these infrastructures listed above it would be catastrophic to introduce Autonomous vehicles to our country.